Past Safaris

Three Days at Mombo – September 2009

This was a short trip to Mombo, to guide just two guests for three nights. I usually get to 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, impala abound. Warthogs, elephants, kudu and giraffe are also moving onto the edges of the plains in large numbers. As for predators, we had phenomenal viewing. Our first afternoon turned up the well-known female leopard Legadima. This large female 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 having cubs.

All night long we could hear lions roaring, so when we set out next morning, we immediately went in that direction, and found the male lion pair known as the Western Boys, lying 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. Minutes after leaving the lion sighting, our attention was attracted to the sound of vervet monkeys making alarm calls. After a brief search, we located the reason…a female leopard high in a rain tree. Upon approaching we saw that the animal was a young female and also the daughter of the leopard Legadima. This young female had 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. 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.

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

We saw a male leopard eating on the kill that Legadima had made. We saw the lone surviving wild dog that frequently seen near Mombo. 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. 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 the vehicle door, using it’s nose to try and smell exactly what our vehicle and it’s occupants was all about.

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

About the Author:

I am a guide and a photographer, with a deep interest in all things to do with nature. I am based in Cape Town, South Africa, but travel often to wild places whilst leading photographic safaris, and enjoying the outdoors.

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