Three days at Mombo Camp

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I just returned from 3 days of guiding at Mombo camp.  I guide several times a year at Mombo, but I am not able to remember any time when the game viewing was quite as strong as on this trip.

Perhaps part of the reason for the strong game viewing is related to the falling water levels.  Floodplains are being exposed to the sun and with a healthy dose of sediment from the receding water, the new grass is sweet and abundant.  Herds of red lechwe, zebra, and impala abound. Warthogs, elephants, kudu and giraffe are also moving onto the edges of the plains in large numbers.

“Pula” the leopard at Mombo – Copyright © Grant Atkinson

As for predators, we had phenomenal viewing.  Our first afternoon we found the well-known female leopard Legadima. This large female leopard was featured in a documentary called Eye of the Leopard, filmed by Dereck and Beverly Joubert.  The leopard was resting near an impala she had killed.  Whilst we watched she dragged it up a low, slanting tree and began to feed as it got dark.  Legadima appears to be pregnant and it seems likely that within the next few weeks she is going to have more cubs.

The Western Boys at Mombo – Copyright © Grant Atkinson

All that night we could hear lions roaring, so when we set out the next morning, we immediately went in the direction of the roaring and we found the male lion pair known as the Western Boys. The big lions were lying down and resting at a place called Drift Molapo.  After a few minutes they got up and continued east on a territorial patrol.  This provided us with wonderful viewing as well as some good photo opportunities, as they scent marked and walked along.

Pula the leopard at Mombo – Copyright © Grant Atkinson

Minutes after leaving the lion sighting, our attention was attracted to the sounds of vervet monkeys making alarm calls.  After a brief search, we located the reason… a female leopard high up in a rain tree.  Upon approaching we saw that the animal was a young female leopard and also that it was Pula, the offspring of Legadima.  This young female has only recently become independent, so it was good to see her doing well.  She was restless, perhaps in the high tree to avoid attracting the attention of the lions who had passed by earlier.

The leopard eventually came down the tree in a series of leaps from one trunk to the other.  She then made a rapid attempt at chasing an impala, gave up and climbed high into a fig tree and deep under the canopy.

Hyena chasing away vultures at a giraffe carcass – Copyright © Grant Atkinson

Over the next two days we saw spotted hyenas and vultures competing with one another at the carcass of a dead giraffe.  We spent some time with the Moporota lion pride, all five adult females, two adult males and the 8 cubs.  We parked alongside a huge old bull elephant having a mud wallow whilst other smaller bulls waited respectfully for him to finish.

African civets are usually nocturnal carnivores – Copyright © Grant Atkinson

Some other highlights were the Mathata lion pride with their young cubs, a nice sighting of banded mongooses, and an excellent sighting of an African civet very early one morning.

Banded mongooses engaged in mutual grooming – Copyright © Grant Atkinson

We saw a male leopard eating on the kill that Legadima had made.  We saw the lone surviving wild dog that has been seen regularly at Mombo over the past year or so.  We saw a very shy female leopard hidden in a bush with an impala kill.  Flocks of open-billed storks were gathering on the floodplain edges, feeding on snails.  We had good viewing of several herds of elephants up close and almost all had young baby elephants in their midst.

A hippo grazes on emergent vegetation in a shallow channel to the west of Mombo Camp – Copyright © Grant Atkinson

Perhaps one of the most fascinating of all our sightings took place on our last morning when we drove to a hyena den and were entertained by four young hyenas of varying ages and sizes.  One youngster in particular was extremely curious and approached to within a metre of our vehicles door, using its nose to try and smell exactly what our vehicle and its occupants were all about.

This very young spotted hyena approached to within a foot of the camera – Copyright © Grant Atkinson

This ten-week-old spotted hyena cub had just emerged from the shelter of its underground den – Copyright © Grant Atkinson

I returned to Maun to get ready for my next trip and to sort through the images I had taken.  I hope you enjoy the pictures; I sure had fun taking them.

Male lion at Mombo – Copyright © Grant Atkinson

Report by Grant Atkinson – For more of Grants images, check out his website.

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