A Week in the Wilds of Mombo

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A safari report from Mombo camp in Botswanas Okavango Delta related by our guide extraordinaire, Grant Atkinson.

I spent the last week of May guiding out of Mombo camp.  It is a time of year in the Delta which brings with it very comfortable temperatures, with cool mornings and gentle warm mid-days.

The vegetation at Mombo was still green and quite lush after our excellent rainy season.  Water levels in some of the seasonal channels that fringe the area were very high.   However, the only effect that this had on the game-viewing was to drive many of the grazing animals onto the higher-lying parts of the game-drive areas.

A lioness watches and listens as dusk falls, and she slowly begins to get ready for the evenings activity. This imagewas taken at Mombo camp, Okavango Delta, Botswana.

A lioness watches and listens as dusk falls, and she slowly begins to get ready for the evenings activity. This imagewas taken at Mombo camp, Okavango Delta, Botswana.

The wildlife highlights during the week were many.  They began with a sighting of lions:  The Mathata sub-pride with their cubs, two afternoons in a row.  On our second sighting a couple of the lionesses with their cubs really posed for us on a termite mound.  We saw the cubs playing, flexing claws and the whole pride slowly getting ready for the evening hunt.  We also saw the coalition pair of males that spend time with this pride, the Western Boys.  One of them stole an impala from a leopard.

Leopard cub at Mombo camp.

Leopard cub at Mombo camp.

It was in fact the leopards that stole the show during the week.  First the female who had lost the impala to the lion posed in a tree for us.  Then, the female leopard known as Legadima showed up with her two cubs and an impala kill.  The cubs are almost four months old and are incredibly cute.  They kept us totally entertained.  They climbed trees, chased one another about, and jumped from one branch to another, at times almost falling and catching themselves by one paw at the last second.

A leopard cub, one of two, belonging to an adult female that has long been resident in the Mombo area of Botswana's Okavango Delta.

A leopard cub, one of two, belonging to an adult female that has long been resident in the Mombo area of Botswanas Okavango Delta.

When the impala carcass was half-eaten, the mother leopard pulled it up into a jackalberry tree.  Overnight a group of spotted hyenas showed up.  For almost a whole day the hyenas were at the base of the tree.  What little was left of the impala carcass was just out of their reach, and the two little leopard cubs were seemingly trapped, higher up in the same tree.  Eventually a hyena managed to reach the impala and pulled it down.  Shortly after eating the remains, the hyena left and to our relief the mother leopard showed up.  She collected the two cubs, totally unharmed, and they moved off together.

One of the leopard cubs posing on a tree branch.

One of the leopard cubs posing on a tree branch.

We also enjoyed several sightings of the lone African wild dog at Mombo.  This dog has lost the other members of its pack and is now socializing with groups of black-backed jackals.  We saw the dog heading off on hunting forays with the jackals in tow.  This is most unusual behavior, but serves to show how strong the dogs’ social instincts are.

A lone African wild dog searches for prey at Mombo in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. These dogs typically hunt at dusk, as this one is preparing to do, and again at dawn.

A lone African wild dog searches for prey at Mombo in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. These dogs typically hunt at dusk, as this one is preparing to do, and again at dawn.

Mombo's 'lone' wild dog, which is associating with jackals.

Mombos lone wild dog, which is associating with jackals.

Spotted hyena, buffalo and hippo close to camp were further highlights, and we also had excellent viewing of both breeding herds of elephants with youngsters, as well as some very big, old bulls, who were competing for courting rights with an estrous female.

Black rhino at Mombo camp.

Black rhino at Mombo camp.

The weeks game-viewing was rounded off by a single sighting of rhino, which was again unusual in that we located a group of three white rhino, accompanied by an adult female black rhino.  The two species don’t typically spend time together, although there is no reason that they shouldn’t, as both feed on different types of vegetation.  Although brief, we had a good sighting.

A group of elephants, both male and female, photographed at Mombo, in the Okavango Delta, Botswana.

A group of elephants, both male and female, photographed at Mombo, in the Okavango Delta, Botswana.

I had a great week at Mombo watching and photographing these fascinating sightings, and it has left me looking forward a whole lot to my next visit, which will take place in July 2010.

For more of Grants photography, check out his website.

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