Today we have part 3 of Tony Eales’s safari to Botswana (see parts 1 and 2 here and here, and we have one more to go: from Victoria Falls). Tony’s captions are indented, and you can enlarge his photos by clicking on them.
Safari Part III
Ok, enough elephants and hippos. We all know what WEIT fans are here for: cats and owls.
The first cats were ones that worked at the Sedia Riverside Hotel. One specialised in breakfast clean up, the other in small bird control.
But of course, what you go to Africa for are the big cats. and the first and most wonderful we saw was an adult female leopard (Panthera pardus):
We found out about her position from another safari car and when we got to her position there were at least half a dozen other cars all trying to get a position to see her. She had taken an impala kill into a thick bush and was eating part of it:
When she had had her fill, she came out and lay in the grass and cleaned herself. We were a bit annoyed with one particular safari company that had many cars there and seemed to be coming in far too close and blocking other peoples’ views. Despite all this the leopard acted as if the cars didn’t exist only occasionally looking up briefly when a car restarted its engine. All the cats, leopards and lions, that we saw treated the cars as beneath their concern, unworthy of any attention:
We got the story from some other guides that they believed that this leopard had cubs hidden somewhere. Because our camp was very close by we were able to stay after all the other cars had left and got some great views before she wandered off after sunset, presumably to see her cubs or get water.
The next day we came back early and saw a hyena, presumably attracted by the kill, run off. we went to the thicket but the impala was gone. Then we heard jackals yelping nearby:
We followed their gaze and found the female eating again, this time in high grass. As more cars turned up we decided to head off:
We came back in the afternoon and found a different scene. Now the adult female was laying out on a high mound near a tree. And in that tree was a young male:
The story we gleaned from others was that this male was her cub from last year. He had come to participate in the meal and she had chased him up the tree. He was no longer going to get handouts now that she had new cub. If he moved at all she growled and ran at the tree climbing halfway up the trunk to keep him in place. It was hard not to anthropomorphise his expression as confused and sad as he watched her with fixed gaze as she eventually wandered off:
The next cats we saw was a small pride of lions (Panthera leo), a female, two young male brothers and two cubs. we were the first to spot them and got wonderful views of them playing and interacting:
In the end we saw approximately 30 lions in the trip both in Momei and Chobe and I can’t put up all the shots I got this nice one of a young male in Chobe:
We also saw a third leopard at Chobe:
Now, as promised, Owls:
African Barred Owlet Glaucidium capense:
African Wood-Owl Strix woodfordii:
African Barn Owl Tyto alba ssp. poensis: