Wilderness Chitabe and Chitabe Newsletter – June-July 2023

Camp news


Moalosi Levi


Always diverse and dramatic, the Chitabe Concession proved again that the Okavango Delta never stops amazing and entertaining us. Exceptional wildlife sightings provided extraordinary photographic opportunities, allowing our guests to capture stunning images. From the thrill of tracking animals to the intimate moments of unexpected sightings happening in a flash, we have magical stories to share with you.


Game drives astonished with sightings of birds, leopards, lions, cheetahs, hyenas, wild dogs, elephants, giraffes, zebras, honey badgers and a lot of other general game. Life around Wilderness Chitabe was amazing as well, with lions and leopards roaring almost every night, lions passing in front of camp both at dinner and breakfast time, lions with small cubs in camp, elephants shaking palm trees around camp, a Verreaux’s eagle-owl seen in camp frequently, and other amazing birdlife that kept birders busy at siesta time strolling around camp.


Cheetah fighting at Wilderness Chitabe Botswana



The female cheetah Supermom, who was successfully raising six cubs, has been providing incredible sightings as usual. She mostly occupied our prime game drive area, extending to the north. On every sighting she was hunting or on a kill. At one sighting she caught an impala, and left it for the youngsters to kill. This sparked great excitement for our guests. Because the cubs aren’t experienced, it took them a long time, as they also enjoyed playing with it to sharpen their skills. Eventually Supermom took over and killed the impala before its distress call could alert other larger predators like hyenas and lions that may have be nearby. She is an excellent hunter and it’s fascinating to see her working hard to pass these skills on to her adorable cubs for future use. It has been fun times for our guests to sit and watch the hide-and-seek games from the cubs every time we encountered them.


Supermom recently lost one of her cubs to a lion. The cheetahs were hunting impala and unaware of a lion’s presence; the mother caught an impala that was preoccupied with grazing, and left it for the six juveniles to kill it as a learning exercise.  One of the juvenile males took the lead and attacked the already traumatised impala. The impala overpowered him and dragged him around a termite mound where their hunt victory was short lived, as a lioness that was hiding behind the mound swiftly hit the cheetah with her powerful paw and broke his spine leading to paralysis and immediate death. The rest of the cheetah family was forced to retreat, and in the process one cub strayed away from the rest of the family. He spent the whole day alone and vulnerable, calling repeatedly in an attempt to reunite with the family, but had no luck, as the strong wind wasn’t blowing in his favour. The following day we got the good news from the guides that the cheetah family managed to reunite during the night after the wind calmed down significantly.


In the afternoon of the same day that one of them was killed, the cheetahs seem to have quickly forgotten about the trauma and settled down, carrying on with their hunt in the same area, and were found feeding on an impala later that afternoon. Despite the encounter they had had, and the abundance of lions in the area, these cheetahs remained in the area inhabited by lions for seven days, cleverly ducking and diving away from the lions every day. 


The juveniles are very amusing to watch play – an activity that sharpens and encourages their instinct to become professional hunters. The predator-prey racing play also helps to improve their chasing skills, their co-ordination and their target focus.
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A month ago we were delighted to see the wild dogs denning in our area, in a den they have used over multiple years. We have had regular wild dog sightings recently, since the den isn’t far from camp. After a month of waiting in anticipation, we finally opened visits to the den when the puppies were a month old. It is fascinating to watch the dogs return from a successful hunt and regurgitate to feed the 15 puppies. We were privileged to watch many of their hunts, and also amazed to see an incredible encounter of the dogs vs a hyena. The wild dogs has just killed an impala, when suddenly a hyena that had been surreptitiously flanking them during the hunt, suddenly materialised. This same hyena is known for taking kills away from lone leopards and cheetahs, but this time his plan backfired and the dogs showed him that they have no time nor intent for hospitality. They know the risk of being friendly could lead to him following them to their den afterwards feared. With no shortage of help, and following the lead of the alpha male, the dogs fanned out and fiercely and fearlessly attacked the hyena from all angles, chasing him out of their vicinity. The dogs understood very well that he could be back with reinforcements, so they fed quickly and left the scene.


Elephants and general game sightings were also great. Elephant activity around camp and in the entire reserve varied greatly – from lone bulls to large herds of between 20 and 60. At different times of the day they were seen shaking palm trees around camp to dislodge the ripe nuts (their favourite diet at this time of the year). This is a spectacle one can’t help but enjoy listening to or watching, since it is unusual and strictly seasonal.


Numerous exceptional leopard sightings were recorded, and we achieved a record of at least 20 different leopards seen in our prime game drive area. The female leopard with a cub was encountered frequently. In the early days of seeing her, the cub was conscious of our presence, but as she is growing, she has become very curious and more confident to hold her ground, staring at our vehicle. It became quite commonplace to have more than two different leopard sightings in a day.


Birdlife and the scenery along the Gomoti River remained phenomenal too. It is a truly stunning river with huge diversity of wildlife. When the water arrives, you very quickly notice the change in water level, with some areas that were dry beginning to flood. A drive along the river is always outstanding, with lots of hippos basking in the sun, some playing in the water. Our guests recently rough-counted at least 90 hippos on one morning drive. What makes the drive along the river so particularly impressive is the diversity and large numbers. A mix of different species such as zebras, red lechwe, reedbucks, wildebeest, giraffes, warthogs and elephants are regularly seen intermingling peacefully.


We saw fantastically large buffalo herds this month, as they enjoyed the excellent pasture in most areas of our reserve, and a herd of approximately 500 made themselves at home in our prime game-drive area for some six days. The Tsame Pride followed this herd when they were in the cats’ territory. One astonishing moment was watching the younger lionesses engage in a battle with a full-grown bull. Two bulls were preoccupied with sparring, in a test of each other’s strength – which drew the attention of these opportunistic lionesses. With four lionesses in place, the ambush was established. And as it is all about timing and patience, they kept the bulls under surveillance while they moved towards them, step by step. They advanced attentively and carefully since they knew very well that the slightest mistake could ruin their efforts or endanger their lives. They closed in to within striking range and managed to jump on one bull after a short but spectacular chase. They tried everything they could to weaken their victim, but the bull was too powerful and shrugged them off, escaping, but with severe rake injuries. The pride followed the herd as it moved on, and kept looking for an alternative – a weakened adult or a calf. These young lionesses seemed to know exactly what to do but just didn’t do it properly. They need more experience before they become ultimate hunters.


While we also had brilliant and countless sightings of the other lion prides, most sightings were of the Tsame Pride, whose the territory is set in the camp’s vicinity. A different pride was seen mostly along the Gomoti River, where their prey species remain plentiful. However, the animals spend most of their time in the open area here, which is challenging terrain for the lions to hunt in during the day. We watched a coalition of young male lions hunting zebras along the river; however, isolated bushes were all the cover they have in the area and moving from one bush to the next without exposing themselves was difficult. Another two prides were encountered clashing after they accidentally found themselves hunting the same prey. One pride had numbers on their side, so the smaller pride made the right decision, conceding defeat and retreating.

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