Khwai Community Area 2015

Female leopard (Panthera pardus) having a late dinner on leftover impala. A leopard in a tree is a highly wanted sight on every safari ("the Kodiak moment"), and luckily, we made it


Was unsure what to expect from this location. In 2004, we crossed the old bridge over Khwai River, and to me it was a special moment because of the epic World War II movie "The bridge on the River Kwai" (situated in Burma) and the rustic nature of the bridge itself. I still keep a desktop photo of the Khwai river on my work PC. The bridge across Khwai River marks the boundary between Moremi Game Reserve and the so-called Khwai Community Area.

Across the bridge there is a small village. Khwai village consists of approximately 400 BaBukakhwe or River Bushmen. The Babukakhwae are a section of the Basarwa, bushmen or San people. Due to interbreeding with their neighboring bantus, the people are normally sized and not pygmies. Most of the people in Khwai are Babukakhwae but some are Bayei as well. Bukakhwaedam is the ancestral language of this village, but Setswana, English and Afrikaans are also heard. Recently a new and more sturdy bridge has been built. We crossed into the Khwai Community Area, a community-run concession on the eastern border of the Moremi Game Reserve. Being outside the reserve, off-road driving is allowed here, as well as night drives (which are not permitted in the National Parks). The area is made up of sweeping grasslands, riparian forests and floodplains. The floodplains are flooded most of the year and there are lagoons covered in blue and white water lilies. The area also has large tracts of Mopane forests. The riverine woodland consists of Camelthorn, Knobthorn, Appleleaf and great stands of Leadwood trees. When I visited i August, it was winter and dry season, and the plains were yellow with dried grass.

The Khwai Concession is supposed a good area to see Roan and Sable Antelope which are relatively rare, but we did not see those there. Greater Kudu, Tsessebe, Wildebeest and Zebra are common. Huge herds of migrating Elephants enjoy the Mopane woodlands of the interior of the Khwai area. There are also fairly stable populations of large predators such as Lion, Spotted Hyena and African Wild Dogs found here, and a few Leopards.

In terms of wildlife, the Khwai Community Area was a high-light, with lots of animals, including all the large predators.

This female leopard with a cub was known to be easily found in the Khwai area even before we got there. The travel agent, from Safari Lifestyles, tipped me off on this leopard. A great sight, for sure!


Leopard cub

African Wild Dog. My top wanted animal to see during the safari was the African Wild Dog. Actually, to visit Savuti, and to see the wild dogs, were the main reason I went to Botswana for a safari. We saw two packs of wild dogs, one from a distance consisting of 14 animals and one close-up consisting of 8 individuals. For photography, we almost missed them, but in the last minute before we were heading to Savuti, the guide, who had been driving all over the place the last couple of days to find the wild dogs, decided to make a last effort to find them. And luckily, we encountered two individuals searching for the pack, and eventually found the whole pack of 8 individuals close-up.


African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus)

African Wild Dog


Members of the 14-individual large pack. Here just inside Moremi Game Reserve

Spotted Hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) fighting for Zebra scraps before sunrise


The winner

Spotted Hyena


A hyena relaxing at the den

Khwai waterway


Burned land in Khwai

Lioness in Khwai


Young male lion, with a wound in its head (probably stems from in-fighting). This one was resting with two other youngsters

Two Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus), found just inside Chobe National Park next to the Khwai Community Area


A big yawn

Khwai River


Termite mound

Arnot's Chat (Myrmecocichla arnotti)


Southern Yellow-Billed Hornbill (Tockus leucomelas)

Verreaux's (Giant) Eagle-Owl (Bubo lacteus) at dawn


A second Verreaux's Eagle-Owl, this one seen during the day

Meyer's Parrot (Poicephalus meyeri)


Long-Toed Lapwing (Vanellus crassirostris)

African Jacana (Actophilornis africanus)


Open-Billed Stork (Anastomus oscitans)

Blacksmith Plover (Vanellus armatus). One of the most common birds on the plains


Goliath Heron (Ardea goliath)

Senegal Coucal (Centropus senegalensis). Saw three species of coucal, the White-Browed Coucal, Coppery-Tailed Coucal and this one


African Marsh Harrier (Circus ranivorus)

Khwai landscape


Khwai landscape

Three Honey Badgers visited our camp after dark in Khwai


Honey Badger (Mellivora capensis)

South African Giraffe (Giraffa giraffa giraffa)


A Southern Warthog (Phacochoerus africanus) taking a dump

Southern Greater Kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) with a Yellow-Billed Oxpecker


Common Waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus ellipsiprymnus), and a Cattle Egret

A Vervet Monkey (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) youngster messing around in camp


Dwarf Mongoose (Helogale parvula)

African Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer)


Tawny Eagle (Aquila rapax)

Southern Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius)


Hippo on alert

Almost a full yawn ..


Khwai area, a few rivers and ponds, otherwise dry and sandy

Burchell's zebras (Equus quagga burchellii) keeping an eye on a a bunch of resting lions


Drinking elephants

Black-Backed Jackal (Canis mesomelas)


Black-Backed Jackal

Mother with cub


The female leopard, now on the ground. We revisited the mother and cub several times