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Nxai Pan Camp, September 2022

Cheetah passed through Nxai Pan regularly this month, and one morning, a pair of African wild dogs joined guests for breakfast when they stopped to sip from the waterhole in front of camp!

Wild dogs Nxai Pan

However, the concentration of lions around these last water sources made other predators very mindful when coming to drink. The success of the Nxai Pan lions has been well-documented in the past few months. Sometimes it’s inevitable that prey fights back.

Buffalo calf trumps lioness

At 4.30am, the first hint of sunlight peeped from below the horizon. Camp stirred with guides on their way to knock their friendly wake-up calls. However, one morning the alarm call was different when dawn was abruptly punctuated by the thunderous sound of hooves. A herd of buffalo, spooked by a lone lioness, bolted for the perceived safety of the bush near camp.

Buffalo Nxai Pan Camp

When light enough around the firepit, we saw a lioness had attacked a young cow. She tried to seize the animal alone, but the feisty calf shook the lioness off, who then uttered a low call for the pride to assist. Simultaneously, the potential prey likewise hollered for help and the buffalos were first to answer the calls. Seeing the lioness alone, the herd warily approached in ones and twos, until eventually charging en masse. Vastly outnumbered, the lioness retreated, and the injured calf re-joined her hero herd. We saw the little calf several times since the attack, bearing the battle scars but apparently none the worse.

As temperatures rose through September, the lions sought shade at the hottest time of the day. One day they settled not far from the main area, and we monitored them as they scanned the waterhole. Well camouflaged, they raised their heads when a small kudu herd approached. As the antelope cautiously started to drink, the lions locked target and shot forward in a cloud of dust. Lions can move at speeds of more than 70kph, but the wary kudus were quicker, and the pride returned huffing and puffing to the shade.

Reptiles and raptors

As grasses withered, it opened up new foraging for large bird species. It was fantastic to watch ostriches, Kori bustards and the stately Secretary bird strut their stuff across the plains. The Secretarybird has an incredible way of hunting. Their stamping technique may seem a strange way of killing prey. However, they can hit targets in approximately a tenth of a second while applying a pressure of almost five times their body weight. The snakes that have resurrected with the warmth best watch where they slither.

Honey badgers were not perturbed by the rise of reptile activity and were found foraging along the roadside, and the clever Pale chanting goshawks kept an eye out for anything it missed.

What to see on a day trip to Baines’ Baobabs?

At Baines Baobabs, areas near the trees were burnt by a bushfire, and a few springboks, steenbok and gemsbok fed on the roasted fodder. Nearing the end of our dry season, it’s been windy, and out on the salt pans, we saw great dust clouds whipped up in massive whirlwinds that spiralled hundreds of feet into the air.

Baines Baobabs

Early morning proved the best time to be out in the bush with elephants, springbok, blue wildebeest, bat-eared foxes, and sometimes spotted hyenas seeking water before the temperature increased. The elephants made for great photography subjects as they covered themselves with white sand and earth, and youngsters plunged into the shallow pan to cool off. 

(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!)