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Month: March 2013

Tau Pan March 2013

TAU PAN 2013-03-15 3

March has been an active month for predators at Tau Pan. A takeover in territory could happen any time. The Tau Pan pride is currently restricted to a quick sweep to drink then straight out north of the airstrip.

Sightings of lion, cheetah and leopard were frequent at the beginning of the month. With the rains abating, and the season changing Botswana experienced some heat waves which forced thirsty predators to venture to the Tau Pan waterhole.

The camp was visited by a sub-adult young male leopard who resided around the camp for a week. It is possible that this young leopard, aged between 18- 24 months, had been to camp before as he was relaxed when spotted.

Two new male lions have moved into the Tau Pan from the Letiahau area where the waterhole is closed and their territory is overlapping with that of the resident Tau Pan Pride. The area of overlap includes the camp water hole, so we have heard and seen a lot of lion activity.

In case you missed it last month we felt we had to re-share this spectacular sight of qualia taking a dip in our pool.  They had been drinking at the camp waterhole, which is a flat pan, easy for birds to stand and drink at, but the large number of raptors were swooping down on them and hunting them. A few smart individuals – obviously followed by a huge flock of not-so clued-up hangers on – began drinking at the swimming pool at the camp, where the raptors were too wary of humans to follow. The flocks swarmed in and around the camp, but the sheer number combined with the high sides of the pool meant that many drowned when trying to drink. Having people in or around the pool made no difference. A form of net was laid over the pool, but this also didn’t help. And who really wants to swim when 10, 000 birds are whizzing round your head? Eventually a type of mesh was found that helped the situation somewhat, but nothing could really be done until the queleas themselves decide to move off in search of better feeding grounds.

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Nxai Pan March 2013

NXAI PAN JODea.Bat Eared FoxMammals

The first of the March morning game drives began with three males lions resting by the Main waterhole on Kgama Kgama road. A lovely way to start, though one of the lions looked a little morose for some reason! Other days saw them returning to that water hole to lay in wait for prey to approach, and we also had six lions visiting the camp waterhole early one morning, just in time for the morning coffee and muffins.

The next day we were able to witness two cheetah socializing in such away that you could almost understand what they were saying.

Queues at the waterholes continue, as the smaller animals wait for the elephants to move off before approaching. The camp waterhole often has 12-15 elephants at a time drinking there – which can create a bit of a bar brawl amongst themselves as they all crowd around looking for the purest section of water.

One morning game drive provided lovely views of the less famous predators: spotted hyena, four bat-eared foxes and a honey badger.


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Lebala March 2013

LEBALA uzer.cat2.cheetah

At the beginning of the month, a very relaxed male and female lion pair were seen along boundary road mating – a good chance that we may get some cubs in around three months if the pride’s structure remains stable, and is not threatened by intruding males.

A pack of thirteen wild dogs were seen three days in a row, mostly resting when we found them, but on one day they did attempt to hunt but were unsuccessful. The Lagoon pack of 20 dogs also paid us a visit at the end of the month, and were successful in their impala hunt.

Towards the end of the month, we had an unusual sighting: a male cheetah. Since the coalition of male cheetahs moved out of the concession past Lagoon some months ago, cheetah sightings have been very rare. This male was found after an hour of intensive tracking, moving through the Kalahari apple leaf. A hyena was also following him, keeping a slight distance, perhaps in the hope of stealing any kill the cheetah makes. A day or two later, the same cheetah was found resting close to the airstrip.

We were lucky enough to have a sighting of three sub-adult Roan antelope – all very relaxed, as well as a herd of 7 male sable antelope. Eland herds as well were often seen in the vicinity of Steve’s Pan, as it seems they favour this site for their nightly rest.

Breeding herds of elephants abound on every game drive, feeding, drinking, moving through the floodplains and sometimes having mudbaths, which looks like a lot of fun, but potentially smellly.


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Lagoon March 2013

LAGOON ADunkley_Cat2-Wild Dog_9167

Leopards certainly seem to be doing well in this area of late, since the lions are spending more time in the south of the area. There were two sub-adults aged just under one year, found in an island about ten minutes drive from camp. They were both relaxing in their own individual trees, and provided one of the best sightings of the month. A female was also seen drinking from the lagoon in front of camp during siesta time!

One dog from the Lagoon pack appears to be missing, so there are now 12 adults and 8 sub-adults, down from 21. The pack in itself is still doing well, and warthog continues to be the currently most often chosen prey, with several meeting their end this month

Perhaps following on from the wild dogs’ experience – or is it a plague of warthogs?? – a female leopard also caught a nice piece of pork for her dinner early in the month.

Having not seen the three brother cheetahs in several months, we were surprised to find tracks of a solitary cheetah moving close to the camp. A few days later, the cheetah was found, and it turns out to be the one brother of the three who had previously separated from the coalition for a month. We wonder if this is it for him, and he won’t return to his brothers? Or will his brothers follow him too?

A lovely herd of around 100 eland were found along the cutline, but these animals are always very shy, so we were not able to watch them for long before they moved off

Elephants are also in large numbers, with the breeding herds back. These herds are normally too shy to come through the camp, but cross the channel just to the west of the camp on most days. Bull elephants, however, are much more confident around human habitations, (the elephants were obviously there before we were!) and two males are found ‘hanging out’ between the kitchen and the dining room on most days. This makes for some long detours for the plates and food if they are too close to the pathway….

Night drives have been a little quiet, as the grass is so tall in most areas. It should only be a few weeks, and the long grass will fall flat, enabling great visibility.

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