Tau Pan, Mar 2019

Patricia Riley Cat 1 Lions in convoy Tau

The Tau Pan pride was located at the pan in a group of ten, five males, 2 adult lionesses and three sub-adults. One of the younger lions was already showing great enthusiasm for hunting and she was often found chasing some prey animal around the pan. The guides suspect that she will be an excellent provider for the pride in years to come.  One of the adult lionesses was been mated by a resident male at the end of February and the activities of this pair continued into the start of March. One morning the guests were enjoying the sound of nearby lion roars echoing across the plains when three lions, the “honeymoon couple” and another male, came into view at the camp waterhole. Sometimes the lions walked straight through camp and one day our bushman walk was interrupted by the arrival of a big male lion. A nomadic lioness who is not part of the resident pride was also spotted at the waterhole, but she looked scared and ran away when the Tau Pan lions approached. A few days later she appeared to be looking weak, had a swollen front leg and was bleeding from the mouth. This resident pride seemed to enjoy hanging out at the airstrip, resting under the shade of the guest luggage rack so we had to alert the pilots’ attention to the cats’ presence by flashing vehicle lights before they got down from the plane.

At Deception Valley a different pride of lions was found feeding on an oryx and at Passarge Pan a big pride of fourteen were near to the public campsite.

A leopard was seen hunting near to camp and was lucky enough to bring down a gemsbok calf which guests watched it eating.  A couple of other times we watched her leopard stalking steenbok, but she didn’t manage to make the kill. One time the leopard crawled right under out vehicle.

A female cheetah was encountered on Passarge Link road, but she was unsettled having been chased by lions. A couple of days we found her looking more relaxed and feeding on a Common Duiker lamb. At Deception Valley we saw a female cheetah running around, trying her luck on springbok.

A female brown hyena was seen drinking at the camp waterhole.

Tau Pan itself was very productive with plenty of general game including desert-adapted species such as oryx and springbok.  One day we watched two oryx bulls fighting for dominance for over twenty minutes until another male approached and appeared to split them up. Giraffes were seen browsing on the taller thorn trees.

Smaller mammals encountered included bat-eared fox, honey badger and back-backed jackal. A pair of worried looking African wild cats were nervously eyeing up two male lions who were lying nearby under a tree. We were lucky enough to see a Cape Fox, one of the less common species to spot, although it was quick to dart away.

Even within camp itself there are always interesting interactions between the smaller animals and birds. One day we watched as a yellow-billed hornbill was hunting a striped skink, but it was quickly snapped up by a yellow mongoose.

As usual there were plenty of sandgrouse at the camp waterhole, but some extremely surprising visitors included red-knobbed coot, lesser moorhen and painted snipe – it is very unusual to see these water birds in the Central Kalahari Desert.

(Note: Accompanying picture is from our Kwando Photo Library which consists of all your great photo submissions over the years, it may not be the most up to date, but we felt it was worthy of a feature alongside this month’s Sightings Report!)

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