Nxai Pan

Nxai Pan Camp, March 2022

Things to do Nxai Pan

On a rather memorable day trip to Baines’ Baobabs, we came across a handsome male leopard walking along the road. It veered off and disappeared into the long grass, but to our great fortune, we found a female leopard resting in the shade on our way back. We approached slowly, and she got up to walk along the road, much like the male had. We followed her until she spotted a steenbok, which she then successfully stalked and killed! 

The territory of a Steenbok is relatively tiny, so we come across many in the park. This petite antelope typically covers its dung, which is unusual for antelope, but a clever little defensive tactic it uses to prevent predators from sniffing out their homes. Unless, of course, a hungry leopard comes strolling past.

Nxai Pan zebra migration update

Zebra Migration Nxai Pan

Nxai Pan has been incredibly productive for hungry herbivores. The site was exceptionally green, lush and sticky with mud. The Dropseed grass grew tall and puffed up (“Like someone who went to the salon!” Kwando Safaris guide Alex expressed). We saw Gemsbok, enormous gatherings of Springbok, Red hartebeest, small groups of kudu and the Plains zebra migration was still underway. However, the zebra numbers have gradually dwindled as they start to resume their journey south. One day, we encountered thirty giraffes in a single concentration along Baobab Loop road.

Predators of the pans

Two male cheetahs were spotted walking along the middle road heading south just after sunset one evening, their silhouettes unmistakable in the vanishing light. They seemed skittish and aborted the hunt. We later found lions active in the area and heard their gravelly roars close to camp that night. The following day, the male cheetah was found hunting springbok, but with no success.

The Nxai Pan pride of 11 lions was frequently seen (and often on a zebra kill) throughout March. Mid-month, we came across a mating pair of lions along West Road. It was interesting because the male lion was not part of Nxai Pan Pride. One afternoon, the sudden descent of circling White-backed vultures drew observant guides to Baobab Loop road, where they found eight of the Nxai Pan pride on a sub-adult zebra kill.

We briefly saw a single adult female spotted hyena this month, but it quickly disappeared into the bushes. We also saw Africa’s smallest hyena, the Aardwolf, along Middle Road, being chased by Black-backed jackals. Black-backed jackals were seen daily, and we frequently found families of Bat-eared foxes nestled into the base of termite mounds attempting to hide in the long grass, only to be betrayed by their satellite ears.

Summer birding and Baines’ Baobabs

Kori bustards also strutted their stuff on these plains and we particularly enjoyed watching a Pale chanting goshawk feeding on a Ground agama. Black-shouldered kites, Brown snake eagle, Black-chested snake eagle and Steppe buzzards soared the skies while Rattling cisticolas, Yellow canaries, and Crimson-breasted shrikes bounced about in the branches of the Umbrella thorn acacia trees. Blue checked bee-eaters and Swallow-tailed bee-eaters were often seen hawking from the roadside on our trips to Baines’ Baobabs. The pans in front of these iconic trees are full of water. Sometimes we come across big elephant bulls seeking shade below the other trees nearby, and we saw Lesser flamingos feeding in the water.

African Monarch Nxai Pan

There were many puddles and pans around the park, so we were flush with insect life and noticed a kaleidoscope of butterflies, including the Yellow pansy, African joker, African monarch, Zebra white and Broad-bordered yellow grass butterfly. Giant jewel beetles and tok-tokkie beetles have also enjoyed the prime conditions. One sweltering day,  a Leopard tortoise took advantage of the conditions and enjoyed a mud bath. We also came across a bright green Flap-necked chameleon on the road. 

To our surprise, cattle came to visit the Nxai Pan Camp waterhole one day and drank alongside the zebra and wildebeest. We called the wildlife authority to alert them.

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