Tau Pan, June 2019

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The five male lions of the Tau Pan pride were still holding their territory in a coalition as had been the case for over two years. Sometimes they separated into smaller groups of twos or threes and we found them often, including their regular visits to the camp watering hole. One time we saw two of the males approaching a big kudu, but the wind was against them and the antelope was able to get away. As is often the case at Tau Pan the male lions had nights where they called and called, enthralling the guests. There were still three lionesses in the area, but one was now looking very old and usually seen on her own, seemingly unable to keep up with the others.

We were extremely lucky with leopard sightings during June, including a particularly relaxed female who we saw a couple of times sitting up on a camel thorn tree scanning for prey. We spent good time with her until she came down from the tree and set off on her hunting mission. We also saw her hunting together with her adult son, quite remarkable since nowadays they occupy different territories. They were highly mobile and appeared to be interested in hunting some steenbok together, but the prey species smelled them and bolted. More than once we saw the female hunting bat-eared foxes but she was unsuccessful; it was interesting to see how the jackal alarm call warned the foxes in good time. A male leopard was observed trying his luck on some young oryx, but the area was too open so they spotted him and ran away.

A brown hyena sometimes visited the camp waterhole early in the morning, before any of the other predators were nearby. One time we were lucky enough to see a brown hyena near to Tau Pan as we were enjoying our sundowner drinks. The hyena was walking straight towards us and so guests were able to get some great shots of this elusive mammal.

Now that winter had descended upon the Central Kalahari Game Reserve there was little sustenance in the pan grasses, so the general game started to disperse elsewhere. Species seen at the camp waterhole included oryx, springbok and kudu. We saw a good number of giraffe together, including two young bulls playfighting. On drive we also saw red hartebeest and wildebeest. Guests enjoyed seeing big herds of springbok pronking and described it as “springbok sports day”!

At the Tau Pan waterhole there were many birds coming to drink and the mornings took on a certain order of events as Cape turtle doves arrived at approximately 8am, followed by Burchell’s sandgrouse and guinea fowl flocking an hour or so later. These prey species attracted raptors such as the lanner falcon, bateleur, pale chanting goshawk and tawny eagle. Once we were nearby when a goshawk managed to swoop down on a dove and started eating it from a bush close to the vehicle – a real ‘wow’ moment for the keen birders who happened to be with us that day.

A lone elephant, the same individual who was visiting us last year, returned to the camp area to take advantage of the waterhole. This big bull tended to browse within the camp itself during the night.

We observed honey badgers digging for prey species such as rodents. Aardwolf were seen a couple of times, including a really close sighting where guests managed to get great photos. One morning we saw a remarkable ten bat-eared foxes. Jackals led us towards a female leopard late one afternoon as we followed their alarm calls. A caracal was briefly seen as it fed on a helmeted guineafowl, but the cat was shy and ducked for cover. We also saw a Cape fox.

A four-metre black mamba was spotted going in and out of ground squirrel burrows as it looked for a meal.

A remarkable bird sighting that we had not previously witnessed was a yellow-billed hornbill killing and eating another bird. A flock of white-backed vultures were found finishing off a springbok carcass that looked to be the result of a cheetah kill.

(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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