Wildlife at Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge
Renowned for its abundant wildlife, the Okavango Delta and the areas surrounding Sandibe Safari Lodge are home to a large number of species, including many predators, as well as a number of species adapted to the semi-aquatic lifestyle, such as the elegant red lechwe and shy sitatunga. Lion prides, cheetah, leopard and African wild dog may be encountered, while families of hippo hide in the deeper channels and lagoons. The area supports the continent’s largest surviving concentration of elephant and buffalo, while roan and sable antelope roam the open woodlands.
While lion are commonly encountered in the area surrounding Sandibe, they are not the only predator found in the area. Although predominantly nocturnal and difficult to spot, leopards are fairly common throughout the Okavango, particularly in dense riverine forest. The most secretive of the large cats, leopard prey on anything from medium-sized antelope to birds and rodents, and have even been known to eat fish stranded in shrinking pools as floodwaters recede.
Apart from the more commonly encountered predators, the Okavango is also a stronghold for the endangered African wild dog, although sightings of this rare animal are relatively uncommon. Exhibiting a fascinating social structure, wild dog live in packs led by a dominant pair, where each individual has a place in a strict social hierarchy. Greeting ceremonies between members of the pack precede the hunt, which generally takes place twice a day and involves the entire pack in an open chase that relies on the dogs’ stamina to run down their prey.
One of the most commonly encountered antelope in the Okavango, the red lechwe is especially adapted for the swampy conditions it lives in. Its splayed, elongated hooves give it a sure footing in muddy conditions, allowing it to inhabit the outskirts of the permanent swamps, where it feeds on the lush semi-aquatic grasses. A striking sight with their rust red coats, herds of female lechwe gather to feed in the choice grazing areas, where eager males join them during the breeding season in November.
With an incredible wealth of species, the Okavango is a haven for birding enthusiasts. One of its most sought after species is the huge but elusive Pel’s fishing owl. Living in pairs, this rare bird roosts in the densest evergreen thickets, emerging to haunt its favourite fishing spots after sunset. The owl only breaks this tight seclusion during the cool winter months, when it emerges to back in the warmth of the early morning sun.
A quintessential African sound, the haunting call of the fish eagle can often be heard echoing over the channels of the Okavango. More plentiful here than anywhere else in the world, these intensely territorial birds challenge competitors to regular calling duets. With their striking chestnut and white colours, breeding pairs of fish eagle may nest as close as 500 metres apart in this ideal habitat.
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