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Nxai Pan Camp, July 2022

Winter at Nxai Pan brought crisp, chilled air perfect for photography and gorgeous night skies. Now that the natural pans have dried up, animals spent more and more time frequenting the permanent waterhole at camp, which meant full bellies for many of the lions we saw around Nxai Pan Camp this month.

Waterhole Nxai Pan Camp

On one occasion, we found two lionesses on a Springbok kill, while seven of the Nxai Pan Pride were found on a freshly killed kudu which they relished until the dominant male came to help himself and took away the remains.

A feline affair

We had brief sightings of a Spotted hyena, plus cheetahs and leopards, but the Nxai Pan pride reigned supreme. They will, however, need to keep their eyes open. One evening we stopped for sundowners and heard roaring from a few kilometres away. We packed up and, G&T in hand, headed off towards the booming lion calls. Upon arrival, we were stunned to find a nomadic male lion mating with one of the Nxai Pan pride females.

Nxai Pan Lions

Given the strength in numbers of the Nxai Pan pride, we could only admire the courage of the nomadic male who had strolled into their territory. Lion mating rituals last some time, and if the pride males get wind of him and track him down, he will face serious consequences. We haven’t spotted the nomadic male since, so he likely made good on his escape.

Awesome Aardwolf sightings

Our sightings of Aardwolf have continued, and they have been seen wandering close to the camp on several occasions. As previously reported, they are seldom-seen creatures, so we always count ourselves lucky to have spent so much precious time with them. The open veld at the airstrip also granted wonderful wildlife viewing, including Black-backed jackals, Caracals, and Bat-eared foxes.  

Aardwolf of Botswana

A male baboon was also seen drinking briefly at the camp waterhole but quickly dashed back into the tree line.

Then, we had the distinct pleasure of seeing a mother and baby Honey badger strolling across open grassland! Given its fearsome reputation, the Honey badger can probably allow itself an air of nonchalance. Even lions have learned the hard way that they are not to be messed with. Mum was likely taking Junior out to learn self-defence. 

That is not the only creature with a reputation in the bush. On the road to the airstrip, we stopped to watch the graceful Black mamba glide across the track. Their name is often met with fear, which lies in its potent neurotoxic venom, but it’s worth noting that a Black mamba will almost certainly turn tail and vanish if you encounter one. And before you judge them, ponder this. In the past ten years, it has been discovered that mamba venom contains a powerful painkiller. As potent as morphine but without many of the side effects. Despite the fear their name instils, perhaps your pain medication will come from the mamba in the future! 

Nxai Pan has also been alive with herbivores, including Red hartebeests, Oryx, Springbok, Kudu, and a journey of 57 Giraffes. This large grouping of giraffes has been a wonder in recent months in Nxai Pan as it is unusual to find them in such numbers.

Last but certainly not least, there was a Pale-chanting goshawk feeding on a Ground agama, and plenty of different species of birds and Black-backed jackals fed on termites. There were Tawny eagles, Cattle egrets, Steppe buzzards, Gabar goshawks, Brown snake-eagles and elegant Bateleurs.

(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!)