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Category: Nxai Pan

Nxai Pan Camp, May 2024

Spotted hyenas were frequently seen this month. Four were observed drinking early in the morning at the camp waterhole, only to be ambushed.

The lions, stealthily approaching from the tall grass, launched a surprise attack, scattering the hyenas in all directions. The lions chased the hyenas away, but managed to catch and kill one, a standard behaviour to reduce competition for food. The distinctive calls of both species were a regular nocturnal soundtrack at Nxai Pan Camp.

There was an abundance of black-backed jackals, especially at the camp waterhole. They were feeding on the remains of the hyena killed by lions, taking advantage of the lion’s leftovers. Numerous white-backed, white-headed, and lappet-faced vultures likewise fed on the carcass, forming a typical scavenger scene.

Sunbathing aardwolves and busy badgers

Aardwolves established a den at Baboon Loop and along West Road, and we frequently observed them basking in the winter sun. Two honey badgers were also seen most mornings when exploring around Baobab Loop.

The resident pride of five lions was regularly seen, providing thrilling encounters. One morning, we tracked them to the middle road towards the wildlife waterhole near South Camp, where they had taken down a wildebeest and feasted all day. The pride was also observed at the wildlife waterhole, unsuccessfully attempting to hunt kudus and springboks.

This month, we located a female leopard resting in the shade along the main road just before the South Gate on the way from Baines Baobabs and saw several other animals on these expeditions. Two rock monitor lizards were located en route (and another was regularly seen on a Terminalia tree along the road to the airstrip). Trackers identified African wild dog tracks along the main road just past the South Gate, and a black mamba crossed the main road on another Baines’ Baobabs day trip, rearing up as we approached. We saw plenty of oryx near Baines’ Baobabs themselves, including groups with young calves.

Elephant rituals and buffalo behaviour at the camp waterhole

Bat-eared foxes were frequently seen foraging, and springboks grazed on the nutritious grass of Nxai Pan, often alongside impalas. The pans, covered with a fine layer of white silt rich in sodium carbonate, offered a unique and breathtaking panorama, especially around the Baines Baobabs region. Blue wildebeests were a daily sight, as were giraffes, sometimes seen sparring. African elephants were a typical highlight, caught engaging in water-drinking rituals and thermoregulation by mud-bathing, which also helps remove parasites. Their ear flapping helps them to cool down because the blood is cooled in their capillaries.

A large breeding herd of buffalo also visited the camp waterhole, often seen in the company of a dominant bull. The submissive behaviour displayed when elephants encountered these buffaloes was fascinating to observe.

Cute baby elephant at Nxai Pan

Insect activity was colourful, with many dragonflies seen hovering over water sources. Butterflies such as the African monarch, yellow pansy, scarlet tip, painted lady flew across the skies. Dragonflies, including red busker, and red-veined dropwing were prevalent. Antlions, both in their larval stage and as adults around lodge lights, were engrossing to observe. These fascinating insects are known for their unique hunting technique, where they dig conical pits in sandy soil and wait at the bottom for unsuspecting prey to fall in. Among the spiders, the most notable were baboon, flat wall, and golden orb-web spiders. We also saw a Cape cobra basking in the sun on the pan.

Cape turtle doves, blacksmith lapwings, and Burchell’s sandgrouse were regular visitors to the waterholes, especially in the mornings and late afternoons. These birds rely on the waterholes for their hydration needs. Other notable birds included marico flycatchers, chat flycatchers, crimson-breasted shrikes, double-banded coursers, and the majestic kori bustards. Northern black korhaans were also frequently seen and heard.

Last but not least, The Makgadikgadi night skies in May were genuinely mesmerizing. Prominent constellations such as Scorpius, Orion, Carina, the Southern Cross, Taurus, and Boötes were visible, along with notable stars like Antares in Scorpio and Sirius in Canis Major. 

(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!)

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Nxai Pan Camp, April 2024

The large numbers of African elephants engaging in their water-drinking rituals were particularly striking.

A big breeding herd of Cape buffaloes was also a common sight at the camp waterhole, with the big bull displaying a surprising submissiveness to the elephants. Additionally, we saw lots of oryx near Baines Baobab, sometimes with tiny calves, and numerous springboks feeding on the nutritious grass in the pan, sometimes alongside impalas. Blue wildebeests were a daily sight, and we frequently observed towers of giraffes, sometimes solitary bulls.

The resident pride of four lions was seen several times near the eastern side of the South Camp wildlife waterhole, attempting to hunt wildebeests. Although their attempts were unsuccessful, it was thrilling to observe their strategic moves, such as the lioness leading the hunt and the male lions flanking the prey.

Another mating pair of lions was spied at the waterhole for two consecutive days, engaging in typical courtship behaviours like nuzzling and grooming. Later, the lioness was seen alone closer to camp, a behaviour often observed after mating. Occasionally, we heard their roars in the early morning. Two male lions were also seen around the area, but they soon moved towards the Baines Baobabs, possibly in search of new territory.

Dragonflies flitted above the waterholes, feeding on smaller insects. Spotted hyenas regularly visited the waterhole in the early mornings to quench their thirst. These fascinating creatures were seen several times, often coming to the water every day. Brown hyena tracks were also spotted on the sandy paths leading to Baines Baobab. Along the pan, we frequently saw aardwolves searching for termites.

We had a brief but exciting encounter with a large male leopard on the main road to Baines’ Baobabs before he quickly disappeared into the bush.

Steenboks were commonly found feeding on green leaves and grasses, alone or in pairs. Black-backed jackals fed on dung beetles, sometimes scattering elephant dung to find termites. Bat-eared foxes were also observed cruising on the pan, foraging for harvester termites.

Snakes and the snake-hunters

The April landscape of Nxai Pan was stunning, with its open vistas, acacia and Terminalia trees. As winter approached, many deciduous trees, such as the baobabs, purple pod terminalias, and umbrella thorns, began losing their leaves, quickly changing the scenery. Butterflies, including African monarchs, yellow pansies, scarlet tips, painted ladies, plus dragonfly species such as red baskers, and red-veined dropwings, added colours to the landscape. The Baines’ Baobabs region continued to offer breathtaking views of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. On hot days, the mirage on the pan created the illusion of water in the distance.

Secretarybird Nxai Pan Camp

We had considerable snake sightings, including a resident puff adder at the lodge, black mambas, and striped-bellied snakes seen feeding on geckos and insects. A rock monitor lizard provided another great reptile sighting along the main road to Baines Baobabs, crawling about in search of food.

Bird-watching sightings included secretarybirds hunting for snakes. The waterholes attracted Cape turtle doves and Burchell’s sandgrouse, providing an impressive aerial display as they came to drink. We also saw lappet-faced and white-backed vultures soaring high, taking advantage of thermals. Other notable birds included marico flycatchers, chat flycatchers, northern black korhaans, double-banded coursers, blacksmith lapwings, and crowned lapwings. The majestic kori bustards, the heaviest flying birds, were also frequently seen.

Antlions in their larval stage ambushed ants, while adult antlions were more commonly seen around the lodge lights.

With short trees, Nxai Pan Camp’s location provided excellent stargazing opportunities, allowing guests to see constellations and planets as they rose. Clear skies on several evenings offered spectacular displays of stars and familiar constellations, including Canopus, Sirius, Scorpio, Taurus, Southern Cross, and Gemini. 

(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!)

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Nxai Pan Camp, February 2024

February began with the discovery of a lioness at a natural waterhole on West Road, where she had concealed a wildebeest carcass. 

During breakfast, guests were treated to the sight of two lionesses and their playful cubs heading towards the Nxai Pan Camp waterhole for a drink. Later that day, another lioness was spotted at the same waterhole, and she led us to her den, where we spied three hidden cubs, only two months old. 

The lioness was also seen at the wildlife waterhole, along with two male lions we encountered on the baobab loop road. In the afternoon, these same males attempted to hunt a giraffe but were unsuccessful. Other sightings included a lioness passing by the camp, two male lions on the western side road, and another pair passing through the camp to drink at the natural waterhole. There were signs of conflict between three lionesses and two males, resulting in one lioness sustaining an injury to her right hind leg. 

Bat-eared foxes were frequently sighted near their dens, typically appearing in pairs with litters of up to six offspring. Scrub hares were commonly observed during the early mornings and late afternoons. 

Elephant at Nxai Pan

Another remarkable sight was the frequent arrival of a large buffalo herd at the camp waterhole in the early morning and late afternoon. The herd comprised numerous newborn calves, plus solitary and bachelor groups added to the spectacle. Like elephants, buffaloes also use mud-bathing for thermoregulation and parasite removal, highlighting their resourceful environmental adaptation. Large herds of African elephants were notable, as were towers and journeys of giraffes, along with their calves, common sights around the camp waterhole, gracefully sipping water and browsing on leaves in the surrounding bushes. 

In contrast, gemsboks showcased their adaptation as water-independent animals by digging tubers for moisture supplementation. Known for their unique coats, these desert antelope were sighted in breeding herds, as well as solitary bulls and small bachelor groups. 

The Nxai Pan zebra migration during February 

The landscape remained a lush wonderland of greenery, with many trees still adorned in different shades of green, some showcasing colourful pods and fruits. Wildflowers continued to enhance the beauty of the Nxai Pan area with their bright blooms. However, limited rainfall resulted in some grasses changing colour and drying out from the elevated temperatures.

Zebra Migration Botswana

The ongoing zebra migration remained prominent, with plentiful zebras and their playful foals spotted drinking at the camp waterhole. Witnessing them dust bathing for thermoregulation was a fascinating spectacle.

During a day trip, leopard tracks were located along the route to Baines’ Baobabs. 

Blue wildebeests were observed grazing in herds throughout the area, with territorial bulls often seen in solitude, safeguarding their resources. Territorial behaviours, such as rubbing their faces on the ground to release pre-orbital glands and marking their territory with pedal glands, were observed among these bulls.

The springbok population flourished, with an abundance of lambs, solitary males, and bachelor groups associating with breeding herds led by a dominant male. Impalas were also plentiful in the region, while greater kudus were spotted drinking at the camp waterhole before moving to thickets for browsing.

Steenboks were often observed in small pairs. These littel antelope form lifelong mating bonds. Occasionally, solitary individuals were sighted too. The population of black-backed jackals in the area was notably robust, with sightings of pairs, solitary individuals, and occasional small family groups. 

During our game drive expeditions, we enjoyed observing various bird species. Among them were the stately Kori bustard, common ostriches, pale chanting goshawks, and yellow-billed kites. We also spotted Gabar goshawks, northern black korhaans, and red-crested korhaans. Other birds that caught our attention were Marico flycatchers, chat flycatchers, white-browed sparrow weavers, and weavers like the southern masked weaver and violet-backed starling.

Birding Bonanza: Raptors, Rollers, and Kingfishers

We also saw several raptors, such as the common buzzard, secretarybird, greater kestrel, brown snake eagle, African harrier hawk, and various vulture species like the white-backed, lappet-faced, and hooded vultures. Marabou and white-bellied storks were also observed, adding to the diverse range of birds. We were also thrilled to see colourful birds like the southern carmine, European, little bee-eaters, and the striking lilac-breasted roller and European roller, brown hooded kingfisher. We also saw the bronze-winged courser, double-banded courser, Temminck’s courser and oxpeckers.

Game Drive Nxai Pan

Flying termites, commonly known as alates, emerged from the softened termite mounds during mating flights to establish new colonies. We also spotted golden orb web spiders, Matabele ants, spider-hunting wasps, and cicadas. We saw several butterflies and moths, including the African monarch butterfly, brown-veined white butterfly, yellow pansy, spotted joker, and emperor moth. Lastly, we observed countless dung beetles.

We also had the chance to see several reptiles, such as the puff adder, spotted bush snake, black mamba, Mozambique spitting cobra, striped-bellied sand snake, boomslang, and African rock python. We also encountered the leopard tortoise, rock monitor lizard, and ground and tree agamas.

(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!)

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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!)

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Nxai Pan Camp, December 2023

At the Nxai Pan Camp swimming pool, two lionesses and a single cub quenched their thirst. 

This unexpected spectacle left us wondering, where was their missing cub? As the lionesses concluded their drink, a harmonious contact call filled the air, guiding us to the lost cub. A heartwarming reunion that put us all at ease!

Another day, the lions headed on an eastern journey, converging at the Wildlife waterhole. There, the trio of lionesses and two cubs revealed themselves again. 

On the west road of the camp, two lionesses and their cubs were engrossed in a feast, the remnants of a giraffe kill. On another occasion, a lone lioness on the middle road indulged in a unique dining experience, savouring a leopard tortoise. 

Lion cubs Nxai Pan

Meanwhile, the Nxai Pan pride, composed of two lionesses and their cubs, graced the eastern side of the Wildlife waterhole, partaking in a wildebeest kill. We also tracked two mysterious male lions that lingered near the camp waterhole, fuelling our suspicions of new arrivals. 

At Baines Baobabs, there was a pride of six lions featuring two lionesses and four subadults orchestrating a hunting expedition. A lone lioness with three adorable cubs perched at the edge of the scrub added a touch of innocence to the carnivorous endeavours. The same lioness, later seen on the Mini Baobab Road, engaged in a spirited but futile attempt to chase down springboks.

The birds and the big mammals

December’s birdwatching in Nxai Pan showcased a display of intra-African and Palearctic migratory birds. Red-backed shrikes, lesser grey shrikes, collared pratincoles, and the vibrant Southern Carmine bee-eaters, European bee-eaters and yellow-billed kites were all spotted. 

Breeding males among the ostriches adorned vibrant hues around their feet and beaks, signifying the mating season. Guests were also treated to the kori bustard courtship rituals, where the male showcased throat puffing and lekking. Northern black korhaan and red-crested korhaans displayed their own mesmerizing courtship behaviours, ascending to great heights before descending in a show of wings and song. Similarly, the southern masked weavers and red-billed queleas exhibited stunning displays. Witnessing the male southern masked weaver engage in nest building, with the female patiently observing, delighted our guests, creating a memorable craftsmanship moment. 

The road in Nxai Pan

The vast numbers of African elephants engaged in water-drinking rituals to aid digestion of their coarse diet were particularly striking. It was fascinating to witness these creatures perform thermoregulation exercises by mixing water with mud and spraying it on their bodies for cooling and parasite removal. Elephants’ ear-flapping, initially perceived as a cooling mechanism, also serves the vital function of cooling blood capillaries behind the ears, where they pump approximately 12 litres of blood every minute. 

Blue wildebeests exhibited territorial behaviours, including soil-raking with their feet to release pedal glands, rubbing faces on the ground to release pre-orbital glands, and tossing mud with horns to appear more imposing. The birthing season commenced, with springboks and impalas adding numerous lambs to the landscape. The imminent arrival of zebras hinted at an approaching migration. Kudus thrived in their preferred thickets, and gemsbok populations, especially around Baines Baobab, witnessed successful calving. 

Giraffes, seen as solitary bulls or in loose social structures, contributed to the sightings. African buffaloes gathered in large herds and bachelor groups, using mud-bathing for cooling and parasite control. Red Hartebeest, numbering around seven, added a special touch to the sightings near Baines’ Baobabs. The Nxai Pan landscape turned green thanks to recent rains. Baobab trees flowered, adding to the scenery, and there were more waterholes.

Cicadas were particularly intriguing, producing a continuous high-pitched sound. Grasshoppers also contributed to the acoustic environment by making sounds concealed in the grass. Other notable sightings included ground beetles, tenebrionids, and alates (flying termites) drawn to the camp lights during their post-wedding flight, marking the beginning of new colonies. The diversity extended to Matabele ants, bombardier insects, stick insects, scorpions, millipedes, centipedes, and various spiders such as community nest spiders, baboon spiders, and assassin bugs. Butterflies, including African monarchs, yellow pansies, common diadems, and white-veined brown butterflies, added vibrant colours to the insect panorama. Dung beetles were observed rolling away dung balls, and other notable sightings included spider-hunting wasps, moths, tree agamas, velvet mites, and African land giant snails.

The area’s thriving population of black-backed jackals was noteworthy, evidenced by their playful puppies around dens throughout the month. Bat-eared foxes were spotted with their adorable pups in the vicinity. The loyal bonds of steenboks, observed in pairs, showcased their commitment as lifelong mates, often found solitarily along the edges of their territories.

Summer stars at Nxai Pan Camp

The stargazing experience was exceptional, with captivating views of significant constellations. One prominent feature was the Mighty Hunter Orion, a summer constellation between November and May adorned with the twelfth brightest star, Betelgeuse, forming one of Orion’s shoulders. Taurus graced the night sky, with its fourteenth brightest star, Aldebaran, serving as the eye of the bull in the V-shaped constellation. Taurus also boasts the Pleiades, known as the Seven Sisters. Sirius, a star in Canis Major, adds its brilliance near Orion. The Southern Cross, or Crux, is easily identified with its Alpha Centauri and Beta Centauri pointers. 

(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!)

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Nxai Pan Camp, November 2023

A highlight of the month was the return of the Nxai Pan pride — three lionesses and two cubs.

Four members of this regal pride graced the camp, providing a memorable scene as they drank from the waterhole. The same lioness, accompanied by her cubs, ventured to the camp’s swimming pool, creating an unforgettable safari scene visible from the dining room.

The graceful silhouette of a lioness also decorated the wildlife waterhole, while on the eastern fringes of HATAB camping grounds, another lioness dined on a wildebeest. Near the Nxai Pan gate, another female lion found respite under the shade of a purple pod terminalia tree. At Baines’ Baobab, a pride of four lions, two lionesses, and two sub-adult males hinted at new arrivals in the territory.

Leopard tracks traced the path to Baines’ Baobabs, where a timid leopardess, attempting to ambush impalas, added an intriguing touch to our day trip across Nxai Pan.

Baines' Baobabs Green Season

A vivid, vibrant landscape for November

We witnessed the transition from arid desolation to verdant vibrancy this month. The once barren trees now boasted fresh greenery, and the grasslands, once lifeless, sprung to a lush, green vitality. This brought a segment of the zebra migration to Baines’ Baobabs — a transient spectacle inspired by the quest for sustenance.

The parade of the general game included imposing and colossal elephants engaged in the ancient ritual of mud-wallowing for thermoregulation. Cape buffaloes frequented the waterhole with their own mud-packing techniques. Southern giraffes elegantly practised the art of necking, while blue wildebeests marked their territory. Springboks, greater kudus, gemsboks, and red hartebeests added to the diverse cast of characters during game drives in the national park.

Kori bustard Nxai Pan Camp

From the proud strut of Kori bustards to the courtship dances of Northern black korhaans, each bird species added its unique melody to the air. Black-backed jackals, scrub hares, and steenboks ambled through the landscape, too, while bat-eared foxes paraded in pairs, the cuteness of their recent puppies adding a delightful note to our expeditions.

Along the Baobab Loop road, another full-bellied hyena hinted at a mysterious feast, contributing to the evening sounds with high-pitched calls. Constellations like Scorpio, Orion, and Taurus marked our evenings around the campfire, and planets like Jupiter and Venus glittered in the morning sky. Prominent stars, from Sirius in Canis Major to Betelgeuse in Orion, added brilliance to the cosmic panorama.

(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!)

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Nxai Pan Camp, September 2023

During September, Nxai Pan was a popular spot. A pride of five lions, including three lionesses and two cubs, were often seen strutting around the camp in the evening, especially around 7:30 pm when guests gathered for drinks near the bar and dining area.

Persistent tracking led us to a leopard stealthily on the trail of steenboks along the boundary road between the park and the Phuduhudu village. We watched the leopard for a while before it disappeared, leaving the outcome to the whims of fate. We also located male cheetah tracks along the main road leading to Baines’ Baobabs.

The stunning onset of spring in the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans

Nxai Pan has a stunning landscape with open grounds and diverse acacia trees. As spring arrived, blackthorn and water acacia trees started to bloom, adding a charming and colourful tinge to the landscape.

As always, the Baines Baobabs’ region offered a breathtaking panorama of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. During hotter spells of the day, mirages appeared on the faraway horizon, creating the illusion of water in the distance.

Evenings were equally enchanting with spectacular displays of stars and familiar constellations visible, including Canopus, Scorpio, the Southern Cross, and the Two Pointers. Guests and guides also witnessed meteors and meteorites, adding an unforgettable awe to celestial observations from the deck at Nxai Pan Camp.

Nxai Pan Camp epic waterhole

As temperatures climbed through the day, elephants, buffalos, and warthogs found respite in the mud by wallowing at the waterhole to regulate their body temperatures. Other animals, such as wildebeests, zebras, springboks, and giraffes, were also seen. Steenboks, scrub hares, black-backed jackals, honey badgers, and yellow mongooses were also repeatedly encountered throughout the month.

Various raptors were logged onto our sightings report, including pale chanting goshawks, black-chested snake eagles, secretary birds, greater kestrels, and the impressive white-backed and lappet-faced vultures.

(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!)

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Nxai Pan Camp, August 2023

Lion sightings around Nxai Pan were a little thin over the first few days of August. Their roars and calls echoed through the night alongside the whoops and hollers of the spotted hyenas, but witnessing them proved fleeting.

However, fantastic lion observations soon proved ample. One day, in the early hours, three lionesses and their cubs took down a subadult kudu at the waterhole near South Camp. A few days later, observant guests scanned the Nxai Pan Camp waterhole and watched as a lioness attempted to surprise a family of warthogs after brunch. The lioness missed and swiftly retreated into the trumpet thorn thickets.

An African wild cat’s tussle with three jackals was another of August’s most intriguing sightings.

Buffalo herds at Nxai Pan Camp

There were many occasions when over a hundred buffaloes frequented the camp waterhole, visiting during early and late hours, occasionally even lingering around the camp overnight. Male buffalo groups also made their presence known.

Buffalo at Nxai Pan Camp

Unpredictable weather lured large herds of elephants, arriving around noon and staying until late hours or even spending the night. Nxai Pan National Park showcased the rest of its stunning wildlife, including wildebeests, impalas, springboks, kudus, giraffes, oryx, and zebras. Steenboks were spotted in their monogamous pairs or solitary, enjoying the green shoots of grass and leaves.

Honey badgers appeared near the camp and by the pan, hunting small prey, and we caught the small-spotted genets in our torch lights after dinner as they casually foraged between the rooms.

During the early mornings and late afternoons, scrub hares would venture out in search of food while avoiding the midday heat. At the same time, bat-eared fox packs were active, taking advantage of the most favourable feeding times. Meanwhile, helmeted guinea fowls were enjoying a feast of the last remaining grass seeds and insects, such as grasshoppers and harvester termites. Black-backed jackals often interrupted these poor birds, chasing and scattering the guinea fowls.

Elephants Nxai Pan waterhole

Birdwatching enthusiasts and amateurs alike were delighted with sightings of the Makgadikgadi’s resident birds, such as pale chanting goshawks capturing prey, tawny eagles, and secretarybirds. The waterholes teemed with doves and sandgrouse, either drinking or soaring overhead. The grey-backed and chestnut-backed sparrow larks were frequent visitors.

A rock monitor lizard was spotted along the main road to Baines Baobabs, stealthily searching for food. These lizards are skilled at scaling trees, rocks, and cliffs, using their strong claws and long tails for balance and support. Despite their relatively large size, they are agile and can navigate various terrains with remarkable dexterity. This exceptional climbing ability allows them to access elevated locations where they often find shelter, rest, and nest away from danger.

Winter skies at Nxai Pan Camp

The last of our winter skies provided stunning celestial displays of constellations like the Southern Cross, Musca, and Scorpio during late hours. Constellations such as Orion, Canis Major, and Canis Minor set early in the month. Even Venus made an appearance in the evening and early morning.

Leopards, on the other hand, remained more elusive, leaving only their tracks around the camp. Closely monitoring their imprints, we know a diverse community roamed the area, including cubs and larger individuals, while smaller tracks traced the main road to Baines’ Baobabs.

(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!)

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Nxai Pan Camp, April 2023

During their safari, guests were treated to a thrilling experience as they followed the tracks of a majestic male lion in search of water in front of Nxai Pan Camp.

They discovered more lion tracks along the road to Baines’ Baobab, offering a glimpse into the world of lionesses and their adorable cubs.

Lions on the way to Baines’ Baobabs

They were awe-struck when they came across a resting lioness taking shelter under a bush while scanning the vast Kalahari plains. Unexpectedly, a male elephant appeared, further adding to the spectacle!

However, the highlight of their adventure was witnessing a lioness enjoy a wildebeest meal, while black-backed jackals and pied crows gathered around. The presence of circling vultures hinted at the possibility of an unseen lion nearby. At Baines’ Baobab, they stumbled upon a pride of five contented lions, including two lionesses and three well-fed cubs, who were leisurely lounging on the road!

We tracked a female leopard on her journey back to an area where we suspected she had hidden her precious cubs near the route to Baines’ Baobab. Guides glimpsed the leopardess as she quenched her thirst at a natural water hole along the West Road. Later, she tested her hunting skills on impalas, showcasing the true essence of a predator’s challenge.

Green Season Nxai Pan

Every dawn brought fresh tracks of the enigmatic African wild dogs, teasing us. Although we did not spot them this time, their unseen presence added an air of intrigue to our wildlife encounters. The melodious songs of the diverse range of larks filled the air during every activity, including the locally confined subspecies, the Dusky lark.  

Astounding raptors of the Makgadikgadi

Guests marvelled at the aerial prowess as majestic raptors skilfully navigated the thermal currents, effortlessly gliding through the skies. A fascinating sight awaited them as vultures congregated around a zebra carcass cleverly concealed beneath the shade of a small acacia tree. While the elusive big cat responsible for the kill remained unseen, the signs of its presence were evident.

Secretary Bird

The remarkable hunting skills of the secretary bird were also displayed as it pursued small prey and relished its hard-earned meal. The agile African harrier hawk, also known as the gymnogene, showcased its unique ability to bend its legs forward and backwards to extract victims from hidden crevices. One memorable encounter involved a gymnogene landing on a log, unintentionally disrupting a glossy starling’s breeding site and causing a commotion among the helpless chicks.

(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!)

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