Botswana, Okavango Delta

Wilderness Qorokwe Newsletter October 2022

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October in Qorokwe kicked off with a pair of leopards mating under a spreading jackalberry tree in the Gomoti floodplains. You couldn’t ask for a more scenic setting to observe their courtship. For two days, they mated several times an hour, undeterred by passersby – including a large breeding herd of elephants. However, when Molelo and his Tau Road Pride approached, the pair hastily interrupted proceedings to scramble high up the tree and hiss at the lions below.

Wilderness Qorokwe Leopards

But it wasn't the leopards that the pride was after: some two thousand buffalo were milling about along the riverside. The lionesses waited an age for the stragglers to limp past then ambushed a lagging bull. They were struggling to topple the bull, biting his legs and hanging onto his back. And then the following all happened at once: a trespassing young lion rushed in from the sidelines; seeing him, Molelo thundered up, roaring, with his ten cubs trailing behind; a handful of buffalo bulls charged in to rescue their herd mate; the lions living across the Gomoti began roaring and heading towards the action. This was all too much for the Tau Road lionesses. They quickly abandoned the buffalo, gathered their cubs and fled the scene. While Molelo remained, roaring his head off and chasing the interlopers.  


You’d think the commotion would dampen the leopards’ ardour, but when we passed them afterwards they were still very much engaged. And so we’re hopeful for a cub or three in the New Year. Until then, we have the Big Pan female leopard and her two cubs to entertain us. The little female cub is far more bold and independent than her brother, who seldom strays from the safety of the woolly caper bushes their mother stashes them in. When he does venture out, his sister is quick to rush over and slap and bully him into playing with her.

Wilderness Qorokwe Lion cubs

In October, some of the Tau Road lion cubs passed the one-year mark and as they get older, their individual personalities are beginning to emerge. Some months ago a female cub showed up with a torn right ear, which has never properly healed. Floppy Ear, as she’s become known, is something of a little huntress. She’s often the first of the pride to spot prey and has been attempting to stalk and hunt alongside the adults. One afternoon, she slipped off to hunt wildebeest on her own – and failed spectacularly. But this has not deterred her.


The cheetah families (with two and three cubs) continue to thrive, and we’ve watched both mothers expertly hunting impala.

Wilderness Qorokwe Cheetah

In mid-October the first welcome, cooling rains fell. And with them arrived black and Levaillant’s cuckoos and broad-billed rollers. Dung beetles and cicadas emerged – the latter screeching in ear-splitting stereo whenever we drive through the mopane belt. The bush is beginning to take on a soft green tinge as new shoots erupt from the damp soil and bright leaves appear on trees.


And so we look forward to November with its dramatic thunderstorms that herald the lambing and calving season, when hundreds of young animals gambol on little stick-thin legs across the newly green plains.



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