Tau Pan, Sep 2019

ARamesh.Cat2Caracal

We were lucky enough to have wonderful sightings of a caracal at the camp waterhole in the mornings and late afternoon. We had started seeing this animal near to camp the previous month and was relaxed enough that guests were even able to photograph him as he rested near to the rooms.

A huge tom leopard was seen drinking at the waterhole and regularly moved through camp during the night, guides observing fresh tracks as they went to the rooms to wake the guests up. This animal is so large that he is the same size as a sub-adult lion.

The lone elephant bull who has been hanging out near to camp for the past year was still in residence. With the general area so dry he has limited options to move elsewhere as the next permanent water source is now very far away. General game at the waterhole included wildebeest, kudu and springbok. There was also a lone impala, unusual for the region, and we saw that it had joined up with the kudu herd for safety. Kudu bulls engaged in a territorial battle; as expected the much bigger challenger won the fight.

Two male lions from the Tau Pan pride were seen attempting to hunt, but they started their chase too early and the prey animals managed to bolt to safety. The Tau Pan lions were often seen at the waterhole, sometimes making an opportunistic attack on the antelope species coming to drink. The pride has sub-adults and it was fun watching them play and greeting their parents. We also found a mating pair within the pride. Two intruder males continued to silently and stealthily use the waterhole, never calling and seemingly wanting to keep a low profile to avoid conflict with the strong coalition of five males in the Tau Pan pride. Two strange lionesses were also seen for the first time.

At Phukwi Pan two male lions were found on an oryx carcass. We returned the following day and the lions had moved on, but the remains were being scavenged on by a brown hyena and black-backed jackals.

A male cheetah was located near Sunday Pan and we also found a female with three cubs on Letiahau Road. The mother looked like she may have been in a fight as she had a cut on her leg.

There were plenty of black-backed jackals, ground squirrels and bat-eared foxes at Tau Pan. We were also lucky enough to see on occasion aardwolf and brown hyena. Guests enjoyed understanding about the symbiotic relationship between honey badgers and the pale chanting goshawks, the raptor following the honey badgers as they dug out rodents, looking for an easy meal.

Other great raptor sightings included tawny eagles hunting doves at the waterhole, sometimes jackals were hoping to steal their kill. A large flock of vultures was seen at Sunday Pan finishing off the remains of a lion kill.

Although the area was still dry, colour was coming back to the area as some of the tree species such as blackthorn and riverthorn were coming into bloom. The worm-bark albezia produced fluffy cream coloured flowers and the Kalahari apple-leaf produced pinky/purple blossoms.

Some guests who had enjoyed a night on the Tau Pan sleep-out deck described the stargazing as “breathtaking”.

(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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