Tau Pan

Tau Pan Camp, June 2022

Most insects have hibernated with the weather dry and nippy at this time of year. However, the cheerful orange African monarch still frequented our skies, and harvester termites have been busy at work. 

Mornings have been particularly icy (one day, the thermometer dipped briefly below zero degrees centigrade) but encased in blankets and holding hot water bottles, our guests were richly rewarded. We located a very relaxed female leopard along the aardwolf road. She was lying in the open, grooming herself, and there were plenty of opportunities to photograph her. Then she slowly stood up and walked past our vehicle before disappearing into the bushes. 

As always, lots of lion activity

One afternoon, we followed the beautiful cats of the Tau Pan Pride until they reached the Tau Pan Camp waterhole for a drink of water. The resident pride of eight (two healthy lionesses and six growing sub-adults) was witnessed again closer to the runway. They were well-fed, dragging their bellies as they trotted about in the early dawn. Another morning, we located fresh lion footprints along the fire break and tracked them towards the camp workshop, where the sub-adults played a charming hide-and-seek frolic to the delight of our guests.

We also found a male lion lying on the road near room one. It made its way to the waterhole, where he made a paltry attempt to hunt a gathering of Greater kudus, but they easily outran him. 

The following day, we tracked two big male lions thanks to their resounding roars and located them along the road to Phukwe Pan. Their impressive sounds rattled through our bones, and the pair served several renditions we could record on video. A good safari makes use of all our senses. Guides often pause a game drive, switching off the engine to listen to the sounds of the bush. One day, Springbok snorts led to a lion sighting of two lionesses with three tiny cubs walking along the road, and we watched as one lioness lifted her cub by the scruff of their neck to stash them safely in thick vegetation before she veered off to hunt. 

Tau Pan Winter Sightings

The predators of our skies have been active too. We saw a Southern pale chanting goshawk feeding on a lizard, Black-shouldered kites, Swallow-tailed bee-eaters, and the considerable Verreaux’s eagle owl with its distinctive pink eyelids. 

Guides have noticed fewer numbers and smaller herds of springboks, but Red hartebeest, giraffe, Blue wildebeest, and gemsbok have been common along with the sweet little Steenbok pairs. The Common duiker was rarely seen in the open as they preferred the protective thickets along Carlos Road.

Two relaxed cheetahs were discovered close to our borehole (one female and her sub-adult male). That afternoon drive also proved productive as we managed to locate a big male cheetah along the main road heading to Makgoa Pan, but he was much shyer. 

Shy Brown hyenas and sticky Aardwolf tongues

Speaking of shy. We came across one Brown hyena during a game drive along Chocks Road. He stopped briefly, but as soon as we switched off the vehicle engine, it tore off like a bullet. We likewise only caught a brief glimpse of a Black mamba, and the snake speedily disappeared into the grass. 

Black-backed jackal, Honey badger, Wild cat, and Bat-eared fox were seen around the Tau Pan area, and an Aardwolf was found foraging along the main road heading across to Mawelewele Road. The aardwolf has exceptional hearing and can supposedly hear termite jaws snapping a blade of grass from two metres away. Thanks to a seriously sticky tongue, it can easily lick up the meal before the insects scurry away.

(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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