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Nxai Pan Camp, January 2024

We located a group of four African wild dogs at Nxai Pan traversing from the northern to the southern side, attempting to hunt springboks. 

Unfortunately, they were not successful. We also witnessed two wild dogs on the middle road near a lioness kill, trying to take control of the prey from the lioness, but their efforts were likewise unsuccessful. 

2024 Zebra migration update

The scenery was lush following substantial summer rainfall, and the zebra migration significantly enhanced overall wildlife activity, with their numbers steadily increasing each day, reaching what we believe to be their peak. In addition to zebras, the prominent game included wildebeests and springboks, often accompanied by their calves. Solitary bulls or groups of males are also frequently observed. 

Zebra migration Nxai Pan

The landscape was adorned with various flowers in different colours, including striking red blooms from the amaryllis family, such as the flame lily, fireball lily, brunsvigia lily, and hibiscus wild stock-rose. Additionally, flowers like cat’s tail, otoptera burchellii, and wild asparagus flourished in the sandy soil. 

Heavy rains brought forth bullfrogs and guttural toads, with scarlet tip butterflies, African monarchs, painted ladies, yellow pansies, and brown-veined butterflies fluttering through the summer skies. In the realm of reptiles, black mambas and spotted bush snakes were located, and African rock python tracks were identified.

Lions at Nxai Pan during summer

The grasslands on the pan were a spritely green, making it easier to spot lions as they moved through. We enjoyed frequent sightings, primarily from the resident pride comprising three lionesses and two subadults. One of these lionesses is currently nursing three one-month-old cubs. The lioness has established a den at Middle Road, and we observed her relocating the cubs between two dens on two occasions. 

Nxai Pan Lions

Witnessing them feeding on wildebeest carcasses was also a remarkable sighting, occurring in different locations. At times, they ventured to the park’s western side, staying for a few days before returning. Two males were spotted south of the camp, feeding on a deceased elephant, which we suspect they might have killed. They remained in that location for three days before departing. Along the Baobab Loop Road, we encountered another old male lion indulging in a wildebeest carcass, and after two days, he moved on. Additionally, a lioness was observed at Middle Road in the middle of the road, successfully hunting and killing a wildebeest.

Newly born wildebeests and springboks were a common sight, with black-backed jackals often seen in the vicinity, eagerly seeking afterbirth. Black-backed jackals and their young offspring were observed daily. They were often spotted feeding on termites, dung beetles, and the ample mushrooms attached to termite mounds.

Giraffes were a consistent highlight, and while the buffalo population on the pan is less abundant due to the widespread availability of water, we had the pleasure of encountering two sizable groups of Cape buffalos along West Road. Towards the salt pan and Kudiakam pan, we spied oryx and red hartebeests.

Flamingos flock to Baines’ Baobabs

These salt pans were particularly captivating, filled with water that attracted a multitude of birdlife. Both species of flamingos arrived at Baines’ Baobab, and we logged cape teals, Hottentot teals, dabchicks, numerous blacksmith lapwings, open-billed storks, black-winged stilts, and various small plovers like three-banded plovers, ringed-necked plovers, Kittlitz’s plovers and ruff. Cheetah tracks were also identified in the area.

Kori bustards, including some gorgeous chicks, were a common sight, and secretarybirds prowled around the pan, searching for snakes and small rodents. We also watched a black-chested snake eagle feed on a striped-bellied sand snake. Among the summer migrants were European bee-eaters, blue-cheeked bee-eaters, red-backed and grey-backed shrikes. 

Spotted hyenas roamed around Nxai Pan Camp as they fed on the remains of a dead elephant. However, more commonly, we heard their calls during the night and occasionally in the early mornings. We also observed their tracks on the sandy patches, both from brown and spotted hyenas. Other nocturnal creatures included cream-striped owl moths drawn to camp lights while geckos fed on them. Spider-hunting wasps and ground beetles were observed, along with jewel beetles feeding on thorn bushes. Despite the cloud cover, bright stars such as Sirius, Procyon, and Aldebaran were visible, with occasional glimpses of constellations like the Southern Cross, Sagittarius, Centaurus, Taurus, Gemini, Canis Major, and Canis Minor near Orion the Hunter. 

(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!)