Nxai Pan, March – July 2020

Nxai Pan SMalan (113)

Big herds of elephants continued to show up at the camp waterhole where they could be seen from the lodge as they drank and mud-bathed. Other animals, such as warthogs, tried to sneak in for a drink, but the elephants were quick to chase them off. Buffalo were also seen drinking from the waterhole, sometimes in herds as large as 200.

Spotted hyenas were also thirsty visitors to the camp waterhole, especially early in the morning, and also ventured inside camp to lap at water dripping from the water tanks.

One night we saw a leopard in camp. Lions could often be heard calling from camp and in April we noticed that one of the Nxai Pan lionesses was lactating, so suspected that she had cubs nearby. Finally, in June, we were delighted to have a sighting of the new cubs for the first time.

One time we found a male cheetah feeding on an ostrich carcass.

Honey badgers were located foraging. Black-backed jackals were spotted trying to catch guinea fowl and also scattering elephant dung to look for beetles. A family of four bat-eared foxes were digging and looking for termites near to the camp.

A very relaxed herd of gemsbok were seen grazing along the road to Baines Baobabs. Giraffe were browsing the thorn trees with young bulls engaged in play-fighting. Springbok were located in the pan area where up to 300 individuals could be viewed pronking and running around in the open space. The majority of the zebra and wildebeest herds left the Nxai Pan area from March onwards as the annual migration departed, although a few remained behind. In June many zebra were seen heading towards the Boteti River to meet the arriving flood waters.

During April there were many butterflies such as acreas and scarlet tips feeding on the flowers of the pincushion veronica.

Relaxed prides of ostrich were located along Middle Road, feeding on the short nutritious pan grasses and we also saw them drinking from the camp waterhole. One time we were lucky enough to witness a male dancing in a mating ritual. A pied avocet was an unusual sighting for Nxai Pan. More commonly viewed species included pale chanting-goshawks, kori bustards, marabou storks, tawny eagles and secretary birds. White-backed and lappet-faced vultures were both in the area. We had an interesting sighting of the male yellow-billed hornbill feeding the female whilst she was nesting inside a tree cavity. During the brooding time the female hornbill loses all her feathers, so is completely reliant on her mate for survival.

(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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