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Nxai Pan Camp, May 2022

As the herbivores sought the water in the few remaining waterholes, the lions lay in wait.

The Nxai Pan pride is eleven-strong in number and well practised in the hunt. Over ten days, we found them feeding on zebra, kudu, wildebeest, and springbok. On one occasion, this led to family strife as the male strode in to take over a kudu carcass, only for the lionesses to register their disagreement with his arrogance. Paws and claws were drawn, and they settled their dispute with a bout of fisticuffs. The male eventually asserted his position as head of the table and wandered off with the kudu remains. Despite this slight disagreement, the pride was looking strong for the coming winter with their bellies full.

We also watched the mating rituals of the dominant male lion and his paramour on a day trip to Baines Baobabs. Lion mating rituals are the stuff of legend, lasting three to four days with the couple repeating every half an hour. (You do the maths.) Lionesses have a gestation period of approximately four months, so if they were successful, we’re sure to hear the patter of tiny paws later in the dry season. 

The cheetahs have also been busy, and we witnessed an unsuccessful hunt near the camp. After a failed chase in the midday heat, the male decided it was still too hot to reach the required speeds. Instead, it took up station in the bush, scanning the open ground for prey while our happy guests snapped away.

A giant journey of giraffe

Nxai Pan hosts a wide array of herbivores for all these predators to thrive. We sat in awe as a journey of 57 giraffes grouped together, which is rarely seen in such numbers. Our guides expertly moved ahead of the herd and sat quietly for a time, allowing the vast collection of tall mammals to pass close by before they elegantly sashayed off into the bush.

Giraffe Nxai Pan

We also had the privilege of seeing the Plains zebras as they commenced their long return migration north out of Nxai Pan, heading back towards the Chobe River. 

Caracal, aardwolf, a baby honey badger (small but deadly!), and baby Bat-eared foxes (perhaps the cutest of them all) were all seen during night drives. 

There’s a star man waiting in the sky

Nxai Pan is a stargazer’s paradise, where history is written in the skies, and local celestial tales can be related all night long. However, sometimes these huge skies come to us. This month our guests were treated to a large flash as a meteorite lit up the sky over the camp and headed south.

Stars at Nxai Pan

The last time this famously happened was in 2018, when a fireball shot across the sky and landed in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. The meteorite was found and named after a local waterhole called Motopi Pan. Scientists believe it started its journey to earth some 23 million years ago. Now that shows some serious safari commitment for anyone who has ever doubted that the remote Kalahari is worth the trip!   

(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!)