Tau Pan, Nov 2019

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In what was arguably Kwando’s most unusual sighting for 2019, a bull elephant was struck by lightning right in front of the game drive vehicle as guests were photographing him. Given that there are very few elephants in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve it was a most bizarre event to witness. Luckily our guests not too disturbed and were able to appreciate that the elephant’s instant death would give life to others. Over the course of the next week the carcass was eaten up by lions and vultures. Unusually, the five males of the Tau Pan pride allowed a sixth adult male to join them as they fed on the elephant.

The Tau Pan pride were regularly seen at the camp waterhole, sometimes as a group of ten which included three sub-adults, other times in smaller numbers. One day we saw a lioness trying to stalk some springbok, but they picked up her scent and scattered in different directions.

A different pair of lionesses, mother and her sub-adult daughter, who prefer the western side of the area were seen a few times hanging out at the airstrip near to the windsock. We also saw them feasting on an oryx as we drove out to Passarge Valley.

Yet another pride of lions who were new to the area were seen drinking at the camp waterhole. This group comprised two black-maned males, two females and a sub-adult male estimated to be just under three years old. We followed them to the edge of the pan and that afternoon they managed to successfully bring down and kill a kudu.

During day trips we found two lionesses resting at the Sunday Pan waterhole. A female cheetah with three cubs was located in Deception Valley and a different female cheetah at Letia Hau. On different trips we found the Deception Valley pride of eight lions and also saw a male cheetah chasing some springbok. A coalition of three male cheetahs was seen in Passarge Valley a couple of times, although they were still shy.

A male leopard was seen near to the airstrip resting on a branch and scanning the area for potential prey.

Bat-eared foxes with five cubs were observed playing at Tau Pan. We were able to spend quality time with an African wild cat who was trying his luck on ground squirrels.

After the first rains of the season large numbers of springbok and wildebeest started to arrive in Tau Pan. The camelthorn trees at the waterhole started to produce new leaves providing shade for other general game species such as giraffe, oryx and kudu as they came to drink. We still had a resident elephant hanging out near to camp and he could be seen calmly browsing.

White-backed vultures and tawny eagles waited near the lion kills looking for their chance to scavenge. Summer migrants that arrived during November included the red-backed shrike and lesser grey shrike.

(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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