Tau Pan

Tau Pan Camp, July 2022

Brown hyenas are known to be elusive, but we were treated to the glorious sight of one throwing caution to the wind and having a roll in the waterhole in front of Tau Pan Camp.

Bat Eared Foxes Kalahari Tau Pan Camp

Meanwhile, the Bat-eared foxes have been ubiquitous. They are easily identified by their unique ears, which they occasionally rotate to face downwards (much like revolving satellite dishes) to seek out insects, invertebrates, and rodents. A Tau Pan regular, they are proficient diggers and were sighted across the area where they have multiple dens and boltholes. Winter allows us to see them sunning themselves (ears down to avoid drawing attention). 

Blue Gnu Tau Pan Camp

With the bush drying out, various waterholes attracted more than just the birds. Tau Pan, San Pan, Passarge, Lethiahau and others have drawn Giraffes, Blue wildebeest and Kudu to these focal points, which inevitably attracted the attention of the Kalahari lions.

Lions at the waterhole

The Tau Pan pride spent most of July around camp with a beady eye on the waterhole, and lionesses confidently left the cubs to go and hunt. One afternoon we spent the entire game drive in the company of the little ones at the airstrip, playing, fighting, and enjoying some rough and tumble. Late in the afternoon, the pride returned and picked the cubs up from their impromptu kindergarten before heading back into the bush. We are pleased to report that they all seem happy and healthy.

Tau Pan Winter Kalahari Lions

Leopards featured prominently this month. While the Tau Pan lion pride took up residence at the camp waterhole, they occasionally wandered further away, allowing the leopards to roam without worry. Our regulars were widely witnessed, and we were also excited to see a lone male leopard who we had not seen before in the area. Male leopards will mark and defend their territory, so it will be interesting to see if our newcomer likes his surroundings and decides to stay. This could create an exciting dynamic as our resident leopards become aware of his presence.

The Tau Pan Camp water hole provided a life-giving drink but also harboured dangers for the unwary. As our guests sat watching the various flocks of birds arriving and leaving while keenly marking off their tick lists, a Gabar goshawk took its chance. These speedy birds can accelerate to over 60kmph, and the flock of Red-billed quelea had barely settled to drink on the ground as the goshawk bounced, catching a quelea on the wing as the flock scattered. The sheer speed and precision of the goshawk make a leopard seem positively lethargic by comparison!

Shorter days and a desert chill set in during July, and the last vestiges of green grass faded. Early morning starts were accompanied by thick jackets and fleece-lined ponchos, although the early morning winter clothing almost always gave way to t-shirts and shorts by late morning.

A guineafowl comedy show

Despite the chill, the cycle of life continued unabated at Tau Pan. We often report on exciting lion hunts and leopard ambushes. However, a ‘kill’ isn’t defined just by the actions of the large predators. The avian descendants of the dinosaurs also provided some amazing action. On one occasion, our guests found a Helmeted guineafowl that had caught a striped mouse. Firstly, they were treated to the comical spectacle of the guineafowl trying to swallow the mouse whole before any of his fellow fowls got wind of his prize. This proved impossible as his throat simply was not large enough to accommodate the unfortunate mouse. As we wondered whether he might well choke, another guineafowl came in and attempted to remove the mouse. This was, of course, no act of charity but calculated theft. The two fought over the mouse in a noteworthy bout of fisticuffs. Eventually, the first bird rescued his prize and flew off to eat in peace.

A heavenly stay in the Central Kalahari

While the days reached the mid-20 degrees centigrade, overnight temperatures dropped to almost freezing in the bush — a terrific time to enjoy the clear skies and endless stars framing the Tau Pan night.

Tau Pan Stargazing

In an area as remote and isolated as the Kalahari desert, light pollution is minimal to none, and star-gazing is simply magnificent. Especially if you spend a night at the sleep-out deck. Fall asleep to unobstructed views of shooting stars streaking across the heavens. There are few places in the world where you can be so completely absorbed in the night 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. Still, we felt it was worthy of a feature alongside this month’s Sightings Report!)

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