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Tau Pan Camp, February 2022

In its summer wash of luxuriant grass, the sprawling Central Kalahari Game Reserve vegetation remained green during February. Rain forever feels like a miracle in this desert, even though we have already enjoyed our fair share this season! We recorded 35mm of rainfall in just one day, and the animals continued to gorge on the abundance.

In an unusual hunt, we watched a Southern pale chanting goshawk feeding on a lizard, and there was a high number of Oryx, springbok, wildebeest and Red hartbeest around. They were often stuck to the pan in the early mornings and late afternoons, where they gathered for safety to better scrutinise the surroundings for predators. Wisely so.  

Tau Pan Central Kalahari

A shy male cheetah was seen at the southern part of the popular pan trying his luck at hunting the Springboks, but one eagle-eyed antelope gave up his location and the herd scattered, leaving him hungry.

Korhaans, Kori bustards, falcons (Amur, Red-footed, Red-necked), Burchell’s sandgrouse, and Turtle doves all visited the camp water hole regularly in the mornings for a drink. The Tau Pan Camp waterhole remains a hive of activity even in the wet season. If only everyone stayed awake to witness the action.

Waterhole excitement

One day, around mid-morning, a male leopard strolled down for a drink and took his time, lapping gingerly from the water for over 15 minutes. Unfortunately, our guests didn’t see him because it was during the siesta.

Another morning, we were due to conduct the nature walk with our San tracker, Scoupa, but during breakfast, he spotted some Oryx and one giraffe acting unusually down near the water. On picking up the binoculars, Scoupa spotted lions in the area, and we boarded the vehicles instead to get a closer look at the Tau Pan pride, which comprises two lionesses with their six cubs.

Although scarce at the beginning of the month, our days soon filled with lion sightings. On a day trip to Deception Valley, we came across the Letiahau Pride resting at the base of a tall Umbrella thorn tree close to the road. The group of two lionesses with their three cubs were accompanied by three males,  which all looked well-fed and healthy. We also encountered two lionesses from the Airstrip Pride slaking their thirst at the camp water hole, and we tracked two other different lionesses on yet another occasion. We followed lion roars towards the pan and located two females with two skinny cubs on the northern side. The cubs were trying to get close to the two lionesses, but they kept growling and pushing them away. Later that day, we located the cubs as a trio with a third young member, but the older females were nowhere to be seen. We suspect that these cubs somehow became separated from their mother.

Tau Pan Central Kalahari

Reptiles were still active on warm days, and we stopped the car during one game drive for a handsome Snouted cobra crossing the road. This intriguing snake actively hunts its prey during the day. It feeds on rodents, birds, eggs, and toads but is fond of eating snakes, too, including the Puff Adder. It measured nearly two metres in length. We also found a Ground agama with a young one, which is uncommon!

(Note: Accompanying pictures were taken 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!)