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Nxai Pan Camp, November 2022

With the rain tantalisingly close but not arriving until late November, the elephants were a staple sighting at Nxai Pan Camp. 

At almost all times of day, the herds shuffled in and out, entertaining us with drinking, bathing, and playing. Two youngsters, in particular, delighted in the waterhole, wallowing, splashing, and trumpeting their way through the day. It was a lovely time of year to simply sit on the sprawling Nxai Pan Camp deck, sip on a gin and tonic and watch the sun turn a deep red in the west as it dropped through the dust particles thrown up by the next herd of incoming elephants.

Wildlife at the waterhole

With the lack of water at this time of year, we didn’t have to go far for action; much of it came to us! We watched both leopard and cheetah drinking at the waterhole from the main area, and the cheetah took up residence around camp. African wild dogs were in the area, too and we identified their tracks. However, with lions hunting continuously, the canines, quite rightly, don’t seem too keen to cross paths. 

The lions had a successful month. We located them eating wildebeest and springbok, but they always appeared well-fed and content whenever we came across them: impressive, given they had minimal cover from which to hunt. One of the lionesses was also heavily pregnant, and we anticipate the new cubs will arrive in conjunction with the rains. 

Antics at the aardwolf den

Earlier in the month, we found an aardwolf den and watched his comings and goings late in the afternoon and early in the morning. With the hodotermitidae (harvester) termites forming most of their diet, Nxai Pan is ideal for them. As aardwolves are happy to share their territories with others, there may be other dens nearby which would explain the high number of aardwolf tracks we regularly witnessed each morning.

The Nxai Pan birdlife certainly did not disappoint. The Pale chanting goshawk showed off its hunting technique, and we saw one resident kill both a snouted cobra and a western stripe-bellied sand snake. While the venom of the latter wouldn’t be too off-putting for the goshawk, the snouted cobra is another matter altogether. A snake with a potent neurotoxic venom, one false move by the goshawk would quickly result in the hunter becoming the hunted. The raptor’s poise and precision when attacking a cobra were quite something to see. 

New life at Nxai Pan

There was plenty of excitement at the first batch of springbok lambs, but what really captivated us were the new ostrich chicks living next to Nxai Pan camp.

Ostrich Nxai Pan

We often saw them charging around, shepherded by their ever-vigilant parents. Lions, leopards and cheetahs will be eyeing them hungrily. However, these predators must also be wary. An enraged ostrich is not something to mess with!

(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!)