Tau Pan, Apr 2019

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As a dry spell of weather continued the animals started to disperse and for a while the Tau Pan pride appeared to have followed prey animals out of the area, but by the 9th April we found three of the lionesses back on the firebreak near to our airstrip and halfway through the month the whole Tau Pan pride was back in its usual territory near to camp. On one morning two of the males responded to a lioness who was roaring near to the camp waterhole and then they started to fight. At Deception Valley a healthy pride of four adults with three cubs was found relaxing in the shade and another time four males were feasting on a fresh oryx kill. Meanwhile at Passarge Valley some loud roaring led us to discovering a pride of nine lions who then stopped to drink giving us the opportunity to capture lovely photos of their reflections in the water. Another time we watched the same pride hunting although they were unlucky.

A very relaxed female leopard was seen more than once fairly near to camp.  This is a well-known individual in the area and she never seemed to be disturbed by the presence of the vehicle. A tom leopard was seen looking rather skittish as he ran away from the lion den.

A female cheetah was located feeding on a young springbok near to Phukwi Pan. Two male cheetahs were located at Deception Loop and were seemingly interested some oryx calves who were grazing with their herd. However there were plenty of eyes and ears to spot the predators and so a plethora of warning calls meant that the cats were unsuccessful. These two individuals are well known to us and we have seen how they travel long distances from Passarge Valley all the way to Deception Valley. At Passarge we found the carcass of a young oryx that we suspected the cheetahs may have killed.

As the prey species started to disperse the general game was grazing in mixed herds of springbok, oryx and wildebeest in order to still achieve safety in numbers. Breeding season was starting to get underway and so testosterone levels amongst the male antelope appeared to be running high. One day we were observing a large herd of gemsbok at Tau Pan when all of a sudden two bulls started a dramatic fight over a female. Male wildebeest were also fighting for dominancy and one individual came running the whole way across the pan before kneeling to graze, but seemingly the main reason for doing this was to assess his opponent and after a few minutes the two bulls started to fight. Giraffe bulls were also located fighting by swinging their necks at each other to land blows with their horns in a behaviour known as “necking”.  Other lovely giraffe sightings included herds drinking and also browsing the umbrella thorn trees in a classic African panorama.  A good-sized herd of red hartebeest were found by our guides and kudu were frequent visitors to the camp waterhole.

We were able to watch an African wild cat hunting a ground squirrel. Honey badgers were also found, sometimes being followed by pale chanting goshawks, the raptors hoping for an opportunity to swoop down on any prey that the honey badgers may have flushed out.  Bat eared foxes were also seen foraging. Towards the end of the month a brown hyena was briefly seen at the camp waterhole.

We were able to watch a flock of vultures finishing up an oryx carcass which appeared to be from the night before. Guests enjoyed watching a gabar goshawk taking a bath at the Tau Pan waterhole.  Other raptors observed drinking at the camp waterhole included tawny eagles, bateleurs and secretary birds.

(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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