Tau Pan

Tau Pan Camp, May 2022

Rains are a distant memory now that our drier months have begun. Cooler winter winds rustled the landscape, and herbivores thronged Tau Pan for the last green grasses. Passarge and Phukwi Pans have joined Tau Pan in providing some of the most nutritious feeding grounds while other Valleys like Litiahau and Deception were completely dry.

Tau Pan Winter Kalahari Animals

The advancing winter and drier months brought shorter days and a chill in the early morning, but it also opened a whole new world of wildlife viewing opportunities.

The desert dwellers, such as Springbok and Gemsbok, have had to dust off their old tricks in search of moisture. One such skill we witnessed was the digging for the Kalahari Water Tuber. This trick, shared by animals and humans, is a fundamental way of finding moisture in the rapidly drying earth. The tuber in question is known to the bushmen as Bi (we have yet to find out what the Oryx call it) and contains significant life-giving wetness. When you meet Scoupa at Tau Pan Camp, ask him to teach you this genuine life hack.

Bushman Walk Tau Pan Camp

The many perks of digging up your dinner

It isn’t, however, just the antelopes and humans who are digging. Tau Pan is a haven for smaller mammals, including the Aardwolf, Bat-eared fox, jackals and the formidable Honey badger. When these voracious diggers start to forage for food, they bring a host of curious birds and scavengers, such as brave Black-backed jackals.

Honey Badger Desert Botswana

We watched a fantastic variety of wildlife waiting for a morsel or escaping lizard to be thrown clear of the hole. While the badger dug, we also observed a beautiful Pale chanting goshawk concentrating on its next possible meal. However, stealing from the honey badger requires accurate speed! Guides located a Snouted cobra and a few Black mambas during their desert drives and added a Leopard tortoise to their log of reptile sightings.

The lions had been noticeably absent from their namesake safari camp at the start of the month. However, as our visitors arrived, the lions responded in kind. The coalition of five male lions has been exploring their territory and met with considerable success. On several occasions, we saw them in and around Tau Pan with full bellies, lounging by the side of the road as the clicks of cameras mixed with the excited whispering voices of our elated guests. The lionesses were never far behind, and later in the month, the whole pride came together, including the six cubs with their energetic antics. The cubs’ rough and tumble serve an essential purpose. Not only does it create deep, lifelong bonds, but it teaches the cubs key stalking and hunting skills that will help ensure their survival.

Cheetahs on the Tau Pan Camp airstrip

The group of resident cheetahs moved quite widely through the area and were seen in various places, including the Tau Pan airstrip, which they used as a dinner table, having “invited” a steenbok to lunch. Cheetahs fall pretty far down the predator hierarchy despite their beauty, agility, and speed. It’s always special to see them thriving around Tau Pan, especially given the healthy lion population that the area supports.

While the wide-open areas provided fantastic hunting grounds for the cheetahs, the treetops remained our local leopards’ domain. On more than one occasion, we were given the Hollywood A-list treatment and sighted the leopard perfectly perched in a tree and preening for the cameras. One day, on a trip to Passarge Valley, we also encountered two African wild dogs on the hunt.

Last but not least, the Tau Pan waterhole drew a myriad of bird species, keen to drink and soak their chest feathers. We noted many raptors, such as Tawny eagles, sitting in wait and ready to prey on the unsuspecting at the water’s edge. The sandgrouse, doves and queleas (amongst others) had to keep a sharp eye on the sky.

(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!)

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