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Tau Pan Camp, April 2022

The birding sure has been remarkable! We were thrilled to catch sight of the rarely-seen little Grey wagtail for the first time at Tau Pan. We were also reminded that not all hunts comprise big cats and crazy chase scenes. The skies are equally rewarding.

A Pale chanting goshawk swooped and nabbed a dove one afternoon. The prey was still alive and heading towards a tree to deliver the fatal blow, but before it perched, the dove fell and was scooped up by another raptor of the same species!

Then there was action on the ground too. A pair of Secretary birds came across a Puff adder, and the bird that first set eyes on the reptile was chased away by his friend, who swiftly took over to kill the snake. It wasn’t long before other raptors came in for a share. A Tawny eagle fought the Secretary bird, but the eagle lost. Pied crows and Black-backed jackals harassed the Secretary bird too. Needless to say, despite the win, it did not have a very peaceful meal.

A Black crake also visited the water hole, and we watched a comedy show as a Yellow-billed hornbill carried a Giant jewel beetle and tried to swallow it whole. Insect life has slowed a bit, except for the Antlions (whose nocturnal activity left a dazzling lacework of tracks in the sand) and the hard-working dung beetles. Their numbers have clocked up since elephants have visited the Tau Pan Camp waterhole again.

Caracals and cobras

Caracal was clocked at Tau Pan too, and the male cat was interested in a meal of Northern black korhaan. As the predator approached, the prey made a strange noise which threw the caracal off, and it disappeared into the bush to try another hunt. We saw Caracals for several days, and the African wild cats have hunted frequently too. There were also good numbers of Black-backed jackals, Bat-eared foxes, Yellow and Slender mongooses, plus the endlessly entertaining shenanigans of the Ground squirrel.

One day we logged a handsome Snouted cobra with its head in the burrow of a Ground squirrel, but it was unsuccessful in finding any. We also came across a Black mamba crossing the road and estimated it to be at least two meters long.

The Tau Pan pride, being the two adult female lions, three males and six cubs, was seen feeding on a Gemsbok. They killed the mother Gemsbok and its calf right in the pan! We often found the cubs frolicking and playing with one another. One day we saw them investigating a poor Leopard tortoise, which had safely recoiled into its shell until the cubs got bored and moved along.

On a day trip to Piper’s Pan, we located the Piper’s pride, one male and one female. The lioness was very active and interested in the giraffes nearby. She attempted stalking, but the snorting of Springboks nearby gave away her hiding place and warned the giraffe.

A male leopard visited us at the Tau Pan waterhole, and we saw a mother with two cubs on several occasions on the Western side of Tau Pan. We also saw a mother cheetah with two subadult cubs chasing Steenboks just on the edge of the pan but were not successful in landing any.

Goodbye summer?

The trees and grasses around Tau Pan were still green but had already started to dry. The dominant grass in the area was the Kalahari sand quick, but the Eight-day grass was lusher and more palatable for herbivores, so they assembled to graze. We enjoyed big herds of Gemsbok, Springboks, wildebeest and Red hartebeest – especially at Phukwi Pan. On the other hand, Giraffes have favoured Phokoje Pan and the Litiahau Valley areas.

Trackers Make Fire Kwando

We have enjoyed what we reckon are the last rains of the season and marvelled at the skills of our trackers, who displayed their traditional skills in making fire by friction during the cultural nature walk – even though the landscape was wet.

(Please note: For the safety of the animals, we do not disclose the location of either rhino or pangolin sightings. Accompanying pictures are 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!)