Chitabe, Botswana

Wilderness Chitabe & Chitabe Lediba news – April–May 2024

Camp news

Moalosi Levi


Autumn in the Delta

We had exceptional game viewing in April and May and our guests enjoyed long hours out on morning game drives enjoying the pleasant weather. Speaking of weather, winter is definitely here and it has been cold, even during the day, since the beginning of May.

Landscape and wildlife around Chitabe in winter

The Gomoti River attracts numerous prey species that naturally increase the predator activities here. The water level has also increased significantly in the last two weeks, drawing more animals to the river. Before this, there were isolated lagoons limiting the territories for hippos, and we saw numerous territorial battles between the males. 


When driving along the Gomoti River, pods of hippos of different generations, as well as lone animals, were encountered out of the water, lounging in the mild sun on the river banks. Seeing a hippo out of water is something very special for the great photographic opportunities it provides, as well as the chance to truly appreciate their size and scale.




Spotting leopards at Chitabe

It was not unusual to have two or more sightings of different leopards on a game drive. With three new leopards on our database, it has added an amazing dimension to our regular sightings, and we felt lucky to be able to see them so often. 


The Maun Road Female and her two cubs were seen regularly, with the cubs really enjoying the spoils of impala kills very often from their mother. She leaves her cubs in a safe place while she goes on a hunt for hours. During their mother’s absence, these cubs are unconcerned about any vehicles near them, having grown up seeing vehicles regularly, and being no threat to them. 


Another two females were seen with two cubs each towards month end – one we know very well as the Leadwood Female on our database, while the other one is unknown, though she is very relaxed. Although the cubs appeared less comfortable with vehicles around, watching how relaxed their mother was they also became relaxed, and our guests had an opportunity to photograph them very well. 


There were also a few sightings of less well-known leopards across the concession, though sightings of this nature are always too quick for the animals to be identified or photographed for ID purposes. Guests had the privilege of seeing leopards hunting, killing and feeding, on numerous occasions. On one of the kills, the impala’s distress call caught the attention of two hyenas in the distance; they came running to the exact location and robbed the leopard of its intensely hard-earned kill.

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Supermom and the cheetahs at Chitabe

We were treated to superb sightings of cheetahs, including a female with five cubs in the first week of May. Upon closer inspection, we agreed it was Supermom, who has previously raised to maturity five cubs out of six, a feat which earned her well-deserved name. She is maintaining her reputation of providing for her young ones astonishingly well, and our team of guides works hard to locate her and they carefully monitor her movements without interfering with her activities. 


She was seen on a couple of kills with her two cubs recently. Very interesting to see that she is still using the same routes and places she used before with her previous litter, and at some point, she was seen crossing paths with four of her now sub-adult offspring, hunting in the same area not far from each other – though Supermom avoids contact with them for the safety of her younger cubs. We had frequent sightings of the four cheetahs this month. 


Another two young siblings were also spotted on a hunt not far from Chitabe Lediba, and our guides followed them as the cats are very comfortable with vehicles. We believe they could be the offspring of one of the females that once frequently roamed our prime game drive area with two cubs last year. The last time we saw them with their mother was in February this year, as they were nearing their weaning period.

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Dramatic lion dynamics at Chitabe

With Broken Palm Pan being the only source of water around the camp area, two prides of lions have made this their preferred hunting ground, and maintained their presence there, which caused some tension between the prides. 


They very often hunt not far from each other, with the Mmakgosi Pride being more cautious, as the pan is just across their territory boundary, meaning whenever they cross the boundary, they have to do it with extra caution to avoid contact with the Tsame Pride as much as possible. The young females of the Tsame Pride are brilliant hunters – very good at co-ordinating a hunt, but still lacking the strength to bring down a full-grown buffalo without the help of the adult lionesses.  We watched them as they were in the middle of a well set up ambush targeting young calves in the herd. They have an amazing strategy of letting the big male buffalos slip past them, and using the opportunity to catch the young ones. 





The hunting success of these prides brought some spectacular viewing opportunities of lion vs hyena activities. We watched the Mmakgosi Pride engaged in a noisy commotion with hyenas over a kudu kill, which attracted the Tsame Pride of 15 lions. They came at the kill aggressively and pushed the Mmakgosi Pride off their kill, as they outnumbered the Mmakgosi by 10 animals, a tremendous advantage.  


The young males of the Tsame Pride aren’t only growing in size, but also in confidence in assisting their parents on hunts – and surprisingly, even on larger species like buffalos. Very often when we saw them, they had been active and leading a hunt. 





It’s important to also mention that the four males from the Gomoti River have formed a strong brotherly coalition and have been incredibly busy moving between territories. These four males are very vocal and patrol with great purpose. They are clearly on a mission to establish themselves in the territory of the Tsame Pride since the departure over a month ago of the two previous dominant males, Rraleoto (Limpy) and his brother, who we suspect found the competitive clashes with these new four males too much to handle. Limpy and his brother are also the fathers of these four males who are now in their prime. 


They young males have already fathered a few cubs with the Gomoti River Pride. They very often split between the two territories, and have also been found on various occasions in courtship, and mating, with the younger females from the Tsame Pride. These males’ dynamics have been keeping the guiding team on their toes trying to figure out their intentions.



Chitabe’s wild dogs 

The constant presence of the wild dog pack of 25, that has a heavily pregnant female, kept our guides and guests on the run following them. Wild dogs have a large home range and we may spend a few days not seeing them, but when they come into our area they will spend a number of days roaming the area. With the alpha female being in the late stage of her gestation, we recently got excited to watch them cleaning up the two neighbouring dens not far from our camp in preparation for the arrival of the new litter. This pack has used the same den for the last five years, and we can only hope it will be the case this year too. 


On their daily rounds, they unexpectedly found Broken Palm Pan and the abundance of prey species. On one afternoon visit they steered and scattered a large herd of impalas that they surprised, killing two with our guests watching. Watching them rip an animal apart with their powerful bite force is intense, but worth experiencing in nature.

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General game around Chitabe

Bigger herds of elephants, buffalos, impalas, dazzles of zebras and journeys of giraffes have been circulating around Broken Palm Pan as it is currently filled with water. The elephants were seen fighting with the older male buffalos – that are isolated in small groups – for mud wallowing spots. One would expect the buffalos to give right of way to the elephants, but that is not the case at this waterhole, where the buffalos seem extra stubborn.  


The big breeding herds of elephants have lots of young calves that are full of life and attitude. Out of curiosity, they will tease other animals coming to drink, but once teased back they will run to their mothers for safety. 





There has been no peace at this pan with predators taking advantage of all the zebras, kudus and impalas. Lions are always eager to hunt anything that comes to drink. Although with some hesitation, lions have even been photographed attempting their luck on young elephants.


We have a very active hyena den with lots of cubs of different ages. The youngsters are extremely active in the late afternoons, playing vigorously and climbing all over each other. Their curiosity about the vehicles is always amusing.


Some of the smaller and less well-known animals, such as porcupines, African wildcats, servals and civets, were seen frequently, if briefly; they are indeed considered very special sightings. We have a few records of very relaxed serval cats in our sightings book, which surprised many guests, who didn’t even know they exist.





Finally, the Gomoti River provided outstanding woodland and riverine birding. 

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