Botswana is blessed with an abundance of predators and the reality is that you can see predators pretty much everywhere you travel to.
We do this for a living because we are safari people ourselves. Spending countless hours in the bush, either driving ourselves or visiting lodges, one of the forgiven pleasures is nearly taking for granted the numbers of predators we see.
The hardest of the big cats to see is always going to be cheetah. This cat is the weakest of the three big cats we have, and because of the numbers of lions we have, cheetah sometimes struggle for a foothold. Nevertheless, they are stronger in population in the drier and more arid regions of the Central Kalahari, and Nxai Pan. They are also viewable in the Delta and Linyanti in the areas where the terrain works in their favour.
Lions…. well, they seem to be everywhere and really, aside from perhaps the very wet areas such as the Jao Concession, they dominate the whole of the wildlife areas of Botswana.
Leopards are the same… Virtually every camp has a leopard or two in the area which is well known to them. The sheer abundance of prey such as impala, means that sometimes leopards have smaller areas and can co-exist with other leopards as the threat between territories lessens as there is less competition for food.
Leopards do exist very happily in the Kalahari and Nxai Pan, but unlike lions, they are harder to see there.
When is the best time to see big cats?
Its a pretty simple answer for lions and leopards really…. mainly due to to their abundance and the abundance of their prey, you can see them ALL YEAR.
Cheetah are a little different as they are definitely more prominent in the more arid areas of the country. Although they can be seen all year and in all areas, their peak season actually coincides with the rainy season here in the Kalahari and Nxai Pan regions.
It is the rains here which prompt all the prey to move in to the vast open grasslands of the Kalahari and Nxai Pan. The best time of year to see cheetah in Botswana is in these arid areas is roughly between November and June.