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Tau Pan Camp, December 2023

During one memorable game drive, we encountered a pack of 13 African wild dogs in excellent health at Letiahau waterhole.

The pack displayed full bellies, indicating recent successful hunts. Among them were six sizable adults and seven lively puppies.

The resident pride of well-fed lions often gathered at the Tau Pan Camp waterhole. We admired their reflections, which rippled in the water during their drinking sessions, creating a striking image of the Kalahari landscape.

A leopardess drinks from the Tau Pan swimming pool

We also enjoyed special moments with a female leopard, especially early in the month when she quenched her thirst in the camp’s swimming pool. Initially spotted near the waterhole, she gracefully departed due to approaching elephants, choosing the tranquillity of a poolside drink instead. Later, on the 30th of December, fresh leopard tracks led us on a brief pursuit, and we sighted her strolling along the road, making her way towards room one.

The arrival of springbok offspring (and their playful antics) was heartwarming, along with blue wildebeest welcoming new members to the family. The nimble black-backed jackals and bat-eared foxes, accompanied by their active offspring, added to the beautiful summer scenery.

Exciting cheetah encounters unfolded in the area, where we tracked two male cheetahs and a female with her trio of cubs. On the 5th, the mother and her cubs, positioned east of the pan, attempted a stealthy approach on springboks. Unfortunately, the antelopes sensed their presence, avoiding any close encounters. On the 22nd, a male cheetah on the eastern side of the pan engaged in a calculated stalk on grazing springboks, but the fast herbivores got away to live another day. Undeterred, the cheetah pursued a mother with a newborn, approximately two days old. A flurry of dust marked the conclusion of this high-speed chase, with the cheetah securing its meal, dragging it to the shade for a well-deserved rest before indulging in the feast.

Sublime green season in the Central Kalahari

Summer showers triggered a bloom of flowers that beckoned a diverse array of insects — the air was alive with the fluttering dance of butterflies, moths, bees, chafer beetles, ants, and wasps. As these insects thrived, they, in turn, were an irresistible draw for birds that feasted on them, highlighting the lively Kalahari ecosystem. From magnificent vultures to soaring eagles, the skies hosted a diverse cast of characters, including buzzards, falcons, kites, kestrels, goshawks, shrikes, guineafowls, spurfowls, cuckoos, sandgrouse, lapwings, thick-knees, coursers, and a myriad of LBJs (Little Brown Jobs).

A gripping encounter unfolded along Chock’s Road, where a black mamba and a yellow mongoose engaged in a fierce but fleeting battle. The mongoose retreated, and the mamba sought refuge in a hole near the road. Various snake species gracefully navigated the terrain, including snouted cobras, cape cobras, and black mambas. Tortoises, including the leopard and geometric varieties, ambled through their habitats.

Springboks CKGR Tau Pan

Guests immersed themselves in a wealth of information, discovering the intricate details of the bushman people’s lifestyle and culture during morning nature walks. Under the vast summer night sky, Tau Pan became a celestial theatre, showcasing prominent constellations. From the iconic Orion’s Belt, the hunter, to Taurus, the bull; Canis Major, the big dog, and Canis Minor, the little dog, the night sky unfolds a mesmerizing spectacle. The Southern Cross graces the morning, while the Milky Way, radiant and bright, adds cosmic brilliance. Planets like Jupiter and Saturn graced the night, and the morning revealed the gradual ascent of Venus.

(Please note: For the safety of the animals, we do not disclose the precise 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!)