Aufgrund der Corona-Situation in 2020 mussten viele (um nicht zu sagen alle) Camps in Botswana für unbestimmte Zeit schließen. Deswegen weisen die übermittelten Daten zu den Tiersichtungen in diesem Jahr einige größere Lücken auf. Wir bitten dies zu entschuldigen.
Kwara & Splash Concession – One morning, whilst waiting for guests to arrive for breakfast, we noticed signs that wild dogs had been chasing impala in front of camp. Almost immediately, our tracker called to say that the dogs were on a kill next to the car park. The guide quickly rushed to collect his guests and went straight before breakfast to watch them eat. As soon as the dogs left for water, a female leopard showed up to scavenge and almost hunted a black backed jackal that had showed up before the leopard. Then we went back for breakfast and headed out for mokoro and fishing. Just as we left camp, after about half a kilometre we spotted a cheetah with a two months old cub! All of these sightings happened in less than an hour – Kwara Reserve living up to its well-deserved reputation yet again.
One evening we finished dinner and took all the guests to see the stars. As we were enjoying our astronomy, the five resident male lions started roaring. Although some of the guests decided to go to bed, others stayed up to enjoy the magical ambience of the camp fire. Half an hour later we heard the screaming of a buffalo, so the guide quickly rushed to fetch his game viewer and everyone jumped on board. About a kilometre from camp we saw shining eyes and the lions suffocating the buffalo. We watched the kill and then two lionesses arrived. The females wanted to feed, but one of the males preferred to mate so the chasing and roaring carried on for some three hours. What an incredible night-time sighting for our guests!
These five males had started to specialise in larger mammals, as well as buffalo they also killed giraffe and an elephant calf of about 4 years old. It was incredible to see that they finished the elephant in just a couple of days. These males are still relatively young to have a dominant position at just under four years. They are feeding well and their increasing size will mean that they stand a better chance of defending their hard-won territory from older, more experienced males.
We were delighted to find a new female cheetah in the Splash area. After tracking her for an hour we found her feeding on a freshly killed reedbuck lamb. The following morning we located her again, on top of a termite mound, scanning the area for prey. Realising that she was on a hunting mission, we decided to cancel our boat trip and follow the animal. Half an hour later, the cheetah saw a group of reedbucks and zebras. She waited behind one the bush where we thought it was selecting her prey and calculating the distance. After a few minutes, the female took a few steps and then came out like a bullet through the groups of reedbuck. She picked off a young ram that was caught within 130 meters. The kill was made in open sun and the cheetah decided to drag the kill in the shadow of our vehicle where she started feeding. The resident male, known as Mr Special, was also in the area and feeding well. We were lucky enough to see him hunt and kill an impala.
A clan of ten hyenas were seen feeding on a wildebeest calf. Black backed jackals were trying to steal meat from the carcass but were driven off by the larger predator. Another time we found a hyena lying fast asleep on a kudu carcass that it had stolen from a leopard.
Large concentrations of elephants were found around Splash area as they browsed the riverine forest looking for greenery. We were surprised by one bull standing on its hind legs with trunk fully stretched out straight as it reached up to find food high up a tree.
More than once we found our resident sub-adult female leopard up on a sausage tree, enjoying the breeze and also a shyer leopard up towards Tsum Tsum.
We enjoyed watching African wild dogs along flood plain areas with water, where they seemed to enjoy playing.
Night safaris yielded aardwolf, Verreaux (giant) eagle owl, marsh owl, small spotted genet, African civet, lesser bushbabies and hyenas.
During mokoro activity we were able to show guests lots of waterlilies, Angolan reed frogs, long reed frogs African jacanas, pied kingfishers, malachite kingfishers, a few fish eagles and red lechwe.
On the boat cruises we had good sightings of malachite kingfishers, pied kingfishers, hippos, a few crocodiles, lots of elephants, red lechwes, sitatunga and fish eagles. The heronry was very active, with some nestlings including marabou storks, open billed storks, grey herons and yellow billed storks
As the weather warmed up, fishing became more productive, especially at the mokoro station spot. On one trip we caught nine red-breasted tilapia and in general guests were really enjoying this activity.
Lagoon – Three lions from the North were calling whole night by the river front by the lodge. One day whilst we were transferring guests by vehicle to Lebala camp we saw a female lion and followed her. She led us to a den where there was another lioness and four cubs aged 3 to 4 weeks old. This maternity ward turned out to be for the Rra Lebant pride. The following day we saw two male lions and a different female by the river bank opposite room 1 and they were feeding on two hippos. Lion tracks were seen passing very close to the staff village and one night two males roared in camp all night long. Four hungry lionesses with ten cubs of different ages were seen for three consecutive days. During the hot and dry season, the pride continued to be seen. The nine cubs were of different ages ranging from three weeks to two months. We were able to see them suckling their young and one day the three male lions came to join them. Two lionesses were seen near Zebra Pan feeding on a giraffe.
Every now and again we saw leopard tracks in camp and once we heard the impala uttering alarm calls and then heard a leopard call in that general direction. We suspected that it was the resident male leopard nicknamed Rodgers.
The wild dogs relocated from the first den that we found them at and still had four puppies remaining.
On cool winter mornings hippo could be seen grazing out of the water and crocodiles were also taking the opportunity to warm up in the early morning sun. As the weather got hotter during September, super-herds of elephants and buffalo came out of the woodlands each day to quench their thirst at the river. It was amazing seeing the elephants crossing the lagoon in front of the main area, drinking and bathing as they went. Hippos could be seen in dominance displays by opening their mouths in a wide yawn to reveal their tusks. In some cases, a physical battle ensued.
Big herds of elephants congregated at the river channels and lagoons as the dry season progressed and weather turned hot. One day in October a huge herd started to cross and then they went into a complete panic. They then gathered in really tight with their trunks sticking out, and we realised that they were all rallying around a TINY elephant calf. Watching the herd work together to help him was fascinating. Then around sunset a young mother and her calf came to graze in front of the swimming pool. It was so cute to watch the little one trying to figure out how to use his trunk.
There was very good general game around camp including zebra, impala, sable antelope, tsessebe, wildebeest, warthog, giraffe, kudu, waterbuck and red lechwe. Troops of baboons were foraging on the river banks, often mixing with the herds of impala. In October, big herds of buffalo also crossed the lagoon right in front of camp, and hippos tried to escape the heat in the shrinking pools.
A rock monitor lizard made himself a temporary home under the deck at back of house and was seen feeding on a waterbuck carcass that died of natural causes. Two porcupines and a honey badger were foraging around the main area at night. One night there were three honey badgers and they managed a breaking and entering operation into the main kitchen. Luckily there was not too much destruction and they just knocked over the dustbins. A solitary spotted hyena was seen mobile at zebra pan and a leopard was seen on the way back from the airstrip a couple of times. A porcupine tried to come into the office one evening and the following night a honey badger came to visit. We also saw a civet.
A lovely group of ten wattled crane were sighted on the banks of the river opposite camp. Ground hornbills were feeding at the airstrip. Other species identified included, fish eagles, tawny eagles, little egrets, African jacanas, goliath herons, starlings, green pigeons, saddle-billed storks, Meyer’s parrots, hadeda ibis and bee-eaters. Several birds such as grey-backed camaropteras, fork-tailed drongos, red-billed hornbills and arrow-marked babblers were seen aggressively mobbing a slender mongoose. Different species of vultures were observed scavenging on an elephant carcass. Our little resident African Scops Owl still lives in camp and was seen near to Room 2.
Lebala – The most exciting sighting of the period came when two wild dogs came chasing 2 impalas through camp. One got his prey in front of room 6 and the other brought down his quarry just in front of room 9. This spectacular action was so close to the guest tents that the camp manager was able to video it on his cellphone! After strangling the impala, one dog started calling and later was joined by a third dog so in total there was a male and two sub-adults (the survivors from the previous year’s pack of seven). We were curious as to why the alpha female was not with them. The following day the three dogs came and rested in front of camp, but the female was still not with them. In October, the pack sometimes visited camp, looking for prey species; but we didn’t see them make a kill.
Two male cheetahs were spotted; they looked hungry and were highly mobile. A couple of days later we found a cheetah carcass in the same area, a very upsetting sighting. Looking at the tracks we believed that this was the work of lions. The cheetah brothers were seen less often as the weather warmed up, but when they were sighted, they looked hungry and restless.
Lions were seen mating on the eastern side of the airstrip. To our surprise, the male was one of three that earlier in the year were fighting with our dominant males Old Gun and Sebastian. To see this intruder now being bold enough to mate one of the younger Wapuka lionesses raised our eyebrows. The next day, all three new males were calling and marking territory along the marsh to the south of camp. We wondered whether they had taken over the territory since they were already mating the resident pride. However, a few days later, Old Gun and Sebastian were back in their territory and judging by the loud roaring they were ready to drive off the challengers again.
A different coalition of two male lions was seen on the east side of the camp. On closer inspection we noticed that one of the males was one that had recently had a collar removed by wildlife officials, across at Lagoon camp. Then yet another mating pair were found resting in the shade; these animals were skittish and the guides thought that they may have crossed from Namibia.
Five lionesses with 1 sub adult were spotted south of the camp. They just came from drinking water by the river; as we followed them, they stalked two warthogs and made successful kills. These lions were originally part of the Bonga Pride, but were part of the the offshoot that became known as the Holy Pride once the big Bonga family split.
Later in October, the two intruder male lions who had previously fought with the well-known resident males were in the area. On one exciting afternoon we saw five lionesses and a sub-adult drinking water and decided to follow them. As they crossed the airstrip road, they started to stalk some warthogs and managed to kill two of them. The following day, Old Gun and Sebastian were back with their pride and chased away these intruders. A lioness with four sub-adults was seen on the west of camp.
Guides were delighted to find the tom leopard known as Fisherman. He had not been seen since before the April lockdown. We watched as he climbed down and tried his luck on a warthog, but he failed that day.
A breeding herd of twenty elephants and five tiny little calves were seen in front of the camp heading to the channel to drink. Buffalo were seen resting in the marsh near camp, close to the hide. As the spring progressed into summer, these large herds of elephants and buffalo regularly overnighted at the end of camp towards the managers and guides’ units. Elephants were drinking at the channels and one night a particularly big bull somehow managed to squeeze himself right into the middle of the camp, but miraculously did not cause any damage in the process.
Fresh shoots in front of camp provided grazing for the herds of wildebeest. Bushbuck could be seen browsing near the guest rooms and hippos grazed after dark around the camp. Impala were huddled into the shade to escape the blistering October sun. Warthogs were mud-bathing, also to beat the heat. We had a lovely sighting of a sitatunga family grazing the green grasses in the middle of the swamp. Other general game included eland, kudu, red lechwe, giraffe, reedbuck, tsessebe, zebra, steenbok and sable antelope. Baboons came into camp to feed off the fruits of the sausage tree. They also decided to use one of the tents as a trampoline, keeping our camp team busy with maintenance.
The inland pans were shrinking, meaning that storks were feasting on the frogs and other creatures that were resident. We had a wonderful sighting of a martial eagle as we crossed to Lagoon camp one day. Other notable bird species were African fish eagles, open-billed storks and white-backed vultures.
Nxai Pan – As the dry weather continued and temperatures started to rise, the numbers of elephants at the camp waterhole continued to increase daily. We were surprised to see a tuskless elephant amongst the herds. As temperatures soared in October, the main animal sightings in and around camp were elephants, elephants and yet more elephants. Herds up to 300 strong congregated at the camp waterhole. Dominant bulls hogged the precious resource causing a lot of frustration and fighting between the lower-ranked animals.
As the numbers of pachyderms grew, the frustration and thirsty desperation of other general game species such as impala, springbok, zebra and kudu was tangible as they could do nothing but wait in the dust for a chance to drink, while the elephants dominated the liquid resource. In addition to the elephants, a herd of twelve buffalo frequented the camp waterhole. Luckily, the plains game were able to use the Department of Wildlife waterhole to drink.
A spotted hyena was seen passing between the staff village and the guides’ rooms and later that night we heard lions and spotted hyena calling close to the camp. The camp manager thought that he heard a hyena make a distress call and, sure enough, the following day we found the dead hyena just in front of Room 5. Judging by the tracks, the hyena had been killed by the resident male lion. The following day we did a short walk with the guests to look at the hyena carcass and found it being scavenged by black-backed jackals and pied crows.
One very hot afternoon, a lioness with two young cubs came for a drink at the camp waterhole. After drinking, they rested in the shade of an acacia tree. The general game continued to quench their thirst, the need for water driving them despite the presence of a predator. The next day we saw two lionesses with full bellies and blood-spotted faces, we didn’t see the carcass, but when we got back to the waterhole, we found another lioness on the remains of a kudu. It seems that at least one antelope paid the price for reckless drinking in the end. After that, all three lionesses, with their eight cubs, spent the night in camp. They were roaring all night and we could hear a response coming from about two kilometres away.
A pack of eleven wild dogs were seen in camp a few days running. Hyenas also visited the waterhole.
General game species included zebra, wildebeest, springbok, impala and giraffe.
A family of bat-eared foxes was seen near the pan, and in the same area we saw ostriches and kori bustards. One time we saw an ostrich chasing a jackal to protect its chicks. Raptors included pale chanting goshawks and greater kestrels.
Tau Pan – In August and September, Tau Pan welcomed a few domestic guests. For these lucky individuals, the wildlife in and around Tau Pan did not fail to impress during game drives. One of the most photographed sightings was that of a male cheetah resting on a fallen tree.
As usual, the Tau Pan pride was active in the area. The large males from the pride were regularly sighted quenching their thirst at the waterhole, much to the frustration of thirsty antelope, who could smell the water but did not dare to get too close. Two of the lionesses and their three cubs were spotted feasting on a wildebeest by the side of a road close to camp.
In October, a lioness with three cubs took up temporary respite from the intense sun under the deck of the manager’s house. We could see that she was nursing an injured leg and during this time seemed to prefer being away from the pride and staying in camp where she could hide her cubs. This meant that the camp team needed to be extra careful as they moved around, but by the end of the month, her leg had improved and she was seen more often with the pride at the waterhole. A male lion, the father of the cubs, was also keeping an eye on his family in camp and seen near to the office.
One day the lions were successful in killing a wildebeest at the waterhole and another time we saw that they were stalking some drinking giraffe, but the giraffes spotted them in time and ran away. As is usual at Tau Pan, the team looking after camp were regularly entertained by the coalition of five males roaring heartily through the night to proclaim ownership of their territory.
As we arrived at the tail end of winter, the landscape around the pans was marked by dried yellow grass and many of the trees lost their leaves. Some of the trees, such as the camel-thorn tree, are adapted to have new leaves during this period, providing much-needed nutrition to browsers.
One morning a brown hyena was seen running away from a lioness at the waterhole. We also saw a caracal heading towards the camp office – a very special sighting. On another morning our guide saw a slender mongoose climb a tree and then jumped down. As soon as he landed, a Kalahari scrub robin started to give a warning call to other birds.
General game was excellent, especially in Passarge Valley where good numbers of oryx, greater kudu, springbok, giraffe, jackal, bat-eared fox and ostrich were encountered. At the waterhole, general game included kudu, giraffe and wildebeest. Right at the end of October we were delighted to see a newly born springbok, already strong and ready to run for its life from some approaching lions.
While tracks were seen along the camp’s pathways most mornings and his rasping calls heard during some nights, the resident male leopard, son of the dominant female in the area, remained elusive and shied away from being spotted in August and September. We did see him one day resting under a bush in October. In the same month, his mother decided to do a patrol of the whole camp, inspecting the veranda of each room, before moving onto the next one. We followed the tracks in fascination the next day, wondering what had been going through her mind.
The waterhole in front of camp was also been a hive of activity for birds, such as the sandgrouse, shaft-tailed whydah and red-billed quelea. Raptors often lurked close-by to try their luck, preying on these smaller birds. A Southern pale chanting goshawk was successful and was seen feeding on a Cape turtle dove one morning. The camp team saw a gabar goshawk kill a cape turtle dove and then he took his meal off to the bushes to enjoy in peace. Another time, a big brown snake eagle caught a dove, but he didn’t finish his meal, because all of a sudden, a tawny eagle flew over him and he dropped his prey, which was snatched up by the larger eagle.
Kwara & Splash Concession – Four new young male lions made a bold move on the Kwara Reserve and seemed intent on pushing out the resident males that we know as Big Man and Puffy. One of them was limping and it seemed as though they had come into conflict with either the residents or the Zulu Boys who were also hanging around. Our guides were sad that these new lions killed a rather special young lioness who was recognisable by her ginger/cinnamon colouring. Towards the end of the month we witnessed a fight and lots of chasing between the four new males and the residents. The ongoing battle between these male lions mean that the nights were full of roaring as each side tried to proclaim their territory. Big Man and Puffy were still in the area at the end of the month, but looking extremely nervous. The resident Splash Pride of eight seemed keen to avoid the new males, but we found them a couple of times eating warthogs that they had just killed.
The three resident packs of wild dogs continued to provide plenty of action. We followed the pack of eighteen as they hunted and killed impalas on a regular basis. One time they managed to kill four impala lambs at once. Vultures and kites could be seen finishing up the leftovers. They also killed a waterbuck calf near Room 12 at Splash.
Meanwhile, the Marsh Pack of twenty-five dogs were also located hunting around the Splash area. One day they came running straight through camp chasing impalas. Eventually they killed two lambs right next to the workshop, devoured them quickly and then continued on with their hunt.
The resident male cheetah known as Special was very active in terms of marking his territory and hunting; he was located on most days as he moved between the eastern and western side of the Kwara reserve. We saw him hunting and killing various antelope species including impala, common reedbuck and a wildebeest calf. Once we saw his kill be taken by two male lions.
A female cheetah was busy tracking Special’s marking posts, indicating that she was ready for mating again. When we saw her in the area last year, she was travelling with her sub-adult son, but this year she left him behind at the mokoro station where he was seen calling for her. We saw her hunting and killing an impala lamb.
Herds of elephant could be seen feeding and bathing in the channels. Guests enjoyed watching the young calves playing. Big bull elephants were regularly feeding on the Kwara camp islands and breeding herds could be seen drinking water at the pan in front of camp. A herd of approximately 300 buffalo was seen in the area.
A relaxed tom leopard known as Golden Boy was located frequently near to Kwara. Vervet monkeys alarm-calling revealed a shyer individual and another time it was the snorting of impalas that gave away the location of the cat. A female leopard was found up on a sausage tree.
Spotted hyenas were denning and we were able to see the single cub nursing from its mother. A clan was seen scavenging on a dead giraffe that appeared to have died of natural causes. We also saw hyenas eating a reedbuck carcass and another time watched them as they cooled off in water.
A caracal was spotted hunting helmeted guineafowl but the birds took off before the cat could manage to snatch one. A relaxed aardwolf was located at its temporary den. We were also lucky enough to spot an aardvark, although the animal was quick to dive into some thickets. We saw black-backed and side-striped jackals on most game drives.
Big herds of zebra were attracted by the great grazing and as they month progressed, they were steadily increasing in number. Other general game included warthog, common reedbuck, tsessebe, impala, kudu and red lechwe. We came across an interesting sighting of mating giraffe. Sable antelope were located in the area.
It was a good time for birding as we were able to enjoy several migratory visitors including European rollers, European bee-eaters and broad-billed rollers. A flock of over 100 carmine bee-eaters were seen feeding on flying ants. It was great listening to the snapping of their bills and chattering as they caught their prey. Yellow-billed kites were also enjoying the feast. Endangered wattled cranes and ground hornbills were both doing well in the Kwara Reserve.
Lagoon – Regular readers of our sightings reports may recall that the resident pack of five wild dogs denned at the beginning of December. Although the female gave birth to a single pup, it appears that it did not survive because by January the pack were nomadic once again. This outcome was disappointing, but not a great surprise because it would be rare for a puppy born so out of season to thrive. We were able to follow them as they hunted for impala and zebra.
The Northern pride of lions were hunting successfully; their target prey included wildebeest, zebra and warthog. One time we saw them feeding and, unusually, the two males let the lioness finish off a zebra foal, even though they looked hungry themselves. A lioness with three sub-adult cubs was seen frequently, including on a fresh elephant calf kill. One time we saw a lioness moving her three new born cubs to a new den, carrying them in her mouth. We were watching a lion pride and noticed a sub-adult male looking pointedly in a certain direction. The lion was moving its tail side to side and he started growling before racing into a charge. We followed him and noticed two figures disappearing off into the distance as two cheetahs ran for their lives. We tracked the cheetahs and eventually they relaxed and went back to marking their posts.
These two cheetahs were the resident coalition of two brothers who. During the month we found them ambushing zebra to target their foals, retreating to rest under the Kalahari apple-leaf trees as the day warmed up. Another time we saw them marking their territory and chasing around some giraffes. They were also seen hunting eland calves. After the clash with the lion they moved deeper south towards Lebala camp.
A female brown hyena was seen at the entrance of the den site on the Munhumutapa Islands. We also saw her running close to the river.
Very good general game in the area included big herds of eland, zebra, wildebeest, sable, kudu, red lechwe, buffalo and giraffe. There was a lovely herd of seventeen roan antelope including three calves. Elephants were seen in big numbers. One time we were lucky enough to come across a wildebeest giving birth.
A spotted hyena was seen running away with the carcass of a young zebra. We also saw another hyena feeding on the skin of an old giraffe carcass. The skin had been soaked by rain, making it easier to eat and digest.
We came across aardwolves foraging for termites during night drive. Bat-eared foxes were also in feasting on the termite alates that emerged after the rains; we saw three different families of foxes near to their den sites. Both black-backed and side-striped jackals were denning and we were abel to enjoy sightings of the pups. During night drive, we came across a family of genets with three small cubs. We were able to watch an African wild cat hunting for rodents and birds. Other smaller mammals located included dwarf mongoose, slender mongoose and bush babies.
A resident female leopard showed good signs of being pregnant. We saw her a couple of times as she was marking her territory, climbing trees and visiting waterholes. A rather skittish tom was also located.
We saw a fantastic feeding frenzy of many birds hawking for flying termites; species included tawny eagles, bateleurs, lesser-spotted eagles, Wahlberg’s eagles, swallows and bee-eaters. A pride of 24 ostrich were located as they grazed. Other notable bird sightings included wattled cranes, secretary birds, slaty egrets, Verreaux’s eagle owls, martial eagles, ground hornbills and European rollers.
Lebala – The resident pack of four wild dogs were hunting successfully and more than once we saw them take down two impalas during one chase. Another time we watched as the impala they were chasing spectacularly leapt to safety across the river. On one occasion the dogs’ impala kill was stolen by a sub-adult male lion who came rushing in out of nowhere at high speed, forcing the dogs to run away. At times, we enjoyed seeing the pack running around and playing with each other, developing their social bonds.
The Wapoka pride were seen hunting zebra and red lechwe. A female with three cubs was seen killing a warthog piglet which she immediately gave to her youngsters, rather than eat it herself. These cubs were seen playing with a small tree, until the lioness hid them in a bush whilst she went stalking wildebeest.
The two resident males lions were located finishing up a wildebeest that they had killed. These males often engaged in load roaring to reconnect with each other after they split up to patrol. They made an impressive sight striding through the plains together, watched by impala who were snorting alarm calls.
A young male lion was nicknamed Nomad as he wandered around on his own and as yet had no territory. However, he seemed to be doing well fending for himself and we saw him chasing warthogs. We also saw two intruder male lions at Halfway Pan.
The coalition of two resident cheetah brothers were found feeding on a kill.
The resident young tom leopard known as Fisherman was spotted hunting a few of times, although not successfully.
General game included impala, kudu, giraffe, red lechwe, buffalo, steenbok, wildebeest, eland, sable, warthogs, zebras, reedbuck, red lechwe and sitatunga.
Big herds of elephants were in the area, some up to 100 strong. We watched them drinking and mud-bathing. They were feeding on trees as well as the lush green devil’s thorn.
Hippos were observed wrestling and opening their mouths in dominance displays. One time two bulls were in a serious fight that lasted over half an hour.
We were able to enjoy watching an aardwolf as it was walking around feeding on termites. A family of seven bat-eared foxes presented a wonderful photo opportunity. Black-backed jackals were seen often and one family had puppies who came right up to the vehicle. A troop of over twenty baboons, including eleven babies provided entertainment as they jumped around in the trees. We also saw African wild cats during night drive.
Notable bird sightings included African skimmers, red bishops, European bee-eaters, pink-backed pelicans, saddle-billed storks, martial eagles, woodland kingfishers, brown snake-eagles and carmine bee-eaters, yellow-billed kites and marabou storks.
Nxai Pan – As the month progressed the numbers of zebra and wildebeest steadily increased and by the first week of January an estimated 5,000 zebra were in the pan area. Springbok and steenbok were also feeding amongst them. Most of the antelope herds had new-born youngsters, taking advantage of the summer salt pan grasses which produce vital minerals for milk production. Giraffes in numbers up to fifty could be seen browsing on the edges of the pan; guests enjoyed watching two young males sparring with each other by “necking”. Kudu and buffalo appeared at the camp waterhole, whilst oryx were seen towards Baines Baobabs.
The resident Nxai Pan pride were making the most of the migration and were seen feasting on zebra frequently. They were generally found in a group of three lionesses and sometimes accompanied by the male lion. We also saw the male lion on a wildebeest kill. Black-backed jackals and vultures could be seen waiting to finish off the carcasses. Once we witnessed the lionesses being chased by elephants. Sometimes the lions were close to camp and we could hear them calling all night.
Elephants still visited the camp waterhole in large numbers, to the delight of guests who could then enjoy watching the herd interactions from their room or the main area. After heavy rains the elephants dispersed to make the most of the natural waterholes.
Reptiles included rock monitors, leopard tortoises, a black mamba and a puff adder.
This particular green season has produced an abundance of butterflies and moths. Species included the blue pansy, African monarch and scarlet-tip.
We saw black-backed jackals digging out rodents at the pan and also were lucky enough to observe them regurgitating food for their puppies at the wildlife waterhole. Bat-eared foxes were foraging for termites along the open plains.
Birding was great and summer migrants included grey crowned cranes, European bee-eaters, black cuckoos, steppe buzzards and pallid harriers. A pair of yellow-billed kites were observed at their nest as they raised their one chick. Abdim’s storks were plentiful with a flock of over one hundred at the camp waterhole. Water birds that appeared following rain included spoonbills, red-billed teal, little grebes and open-billed storks. Lesser flamingos were seen at the pan near Baines Baobabs.
Resident birds seen included kori bustards, chestnut-vented tit-babblers, double-banded coursers, yellow-throated sandgrouse, secretary birds and northern black korhaans. A pale chanting goshawk was seen feeding on a dove. Ostriches and their chicks were seen in large numbers, sometimes as many as fifty adults in the pan area. Red-crested korhaans were engaged in a mating displays whereby the males fly straight up and then tumble to the ground as though shot.
Tau Pan – After some good rains, the landscape of Central Kalahari started to turn green and the antelope started to drop their young. One day we were lucky enough to witness a springbok giving birth. The whole process took just fifteen minutes.
The resident predators were taking full advantage of breeding season. One exciting morning we found a female cheetah as she was killing a springbok lamb. She stood up to take the carcass to the shade, but on the way, she spotted another lamb running towards its mother so she dropped the dead springbok to chase and kill the second. After a few minutes she took it to the shade to start feeding. At this point the guests went for a tea and coffee break, but on their way back they were amazed to see that she had killed a third springbok!
Guests were able to get some lovely shots of a relaxed female cheetah finishing up her springbok kill at Phukwi Pan and we also saw cheetahs hunting at Tau Pan. Three brother cheetahs were seen along Passarge Valley a couple of times, although they were still not used to the vehicles. A resident female with her two cubs was located in Deception Valley; once we saw her on a springbok kill.
The resident Tau Pan pride were seen drinking at the camp waterhole often. There are five male lions in this coalition, some with magnificent black manes. These males range away for up to a week at a time to hunt for food before returning to camp again and re-establishing contact with the rest of the pride with load roars. On day trips we also saw members of the Deception Valley and Letia Hau prides. We saw a lioness try her luck on a wildebeest, but she failed because the area was too open.
A young male leopard was located in the Tau Pan area a couple of times, once very close to camp. We also found a tom leopard in Deception Valley; he went to cross the road but then decided to climb a tree instead, giving our guests a great photo opportunity.
On a day trip we were lucky enough to find wild dogs in Passarge Valley. It was a large pack comprising seven adults and nine puppies. The puppies were quite shy, but the adults were relaxed and everyone was very excited to find the animals in the area.
A brown hyena was spotted along the firebreak.
General game in Passarge Valley and Tau Pan was great and included wildebeest, springbok, gemsbok, giraffe and kudu. We witnessed a dramatic fight between two gemsbok bulls over a female.
Bat-eared foxes and black-backed jackals both had babies. One day we found jackals feeding on a springbok lamb. Two African wild cats were spotted as they were trying their luck on ground squirrels and as we watched they managed to grab one squirrel.
Summer migrants observed included white storks, Abdim storks and Montagu’s harriers. A secretary bird was seen working his kill of a ground agama. Afrika Reisen