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Wonderful game all round here in the remote Kalahari. On Tau Pan itself we have had the pleasure of regular sightings of a female Cheetah with a sub adult and cub. They have been seen almost daily doing their best to avoid the two resident male Lions that outweigh the slim line Cheetahs over five to one!
There was a unique sighting of a Honey Badger predating a Leopard Tortoise on one morning game drive. The Chelonians solid defences could not save him as the Badger managed to paw his way through the carapace and into the soft centre!
We are still seeing the three Cheetah brothers at Jackal Pan on a regular basis and there have been some good Lion sightings in Deception Valley where they seem to favour preying on the numerous desert Gemsbok.
While on a champagne breakfast a lucky group of staff and guests witnessed the rare sighting of an African Polecat. These small black and white mammals are closely related to Weasels and Honey Badgers and if disturbed release a potent toxic odour to deter attackers
Makgadikadi & Nxai
Another stunning summer month at Nxai Pan this February. Impressive rains are continuing to sustain the thousands of antelope gathered on the Pans.
Some guests were treated to a goodnight surprise one night while walking to bed. Their guides spotted some eye movement in the bushes and out shot a male Leopard who hastily scampered for safety away from the nosy people. With a nervous look over its shoulder is skulked into the Trumpet Thorn, no doubt to continue its night hunting.
On the Pan itself the two Cheetah boys are often seen stalking the hapless Impala and Springbok on the eastern fringes towards the woodlands.
Two lionesses were also spotted hunting an Ostrich one morning on the Pan. The hunt was ultimately unsuccessful with the speedy bird finally getting away. Perhaps a lucky escape for a lioness as the Ostrich kick has enormous power and could cause considerable damage.
We have also spotted the Buffalos again towards Khama Khama Pan and expect them to stick around for the next couple of months until the rain finally subsides. Lying on the sun decks at Nxai in the afternoon, guest can also be fortunate enough to see Elephants and Zebras quenching their thirst at the waterhole.
The 2010 floodwater is upon us at Kwara once again. The extreme western areas of the concession have begun to rise ever so slowly in anticipation of the big push that will be coming in the next couple of months. The annual flood is a natural miracle of nature that provides multitudes of animal’s precious water supplies in the dry season as the surrounding Kalahari droughts. Buffalos, Elephants and a host of other game migrates into the floodplains to swell the animal populations and booster already spectacular game viewing for guests.
Kwara is home to a new Leopard cub after a month old animal was spotted with its mother several times over the last few weeks. The pair are still understandably shy and defensive but lucky guests at Kwara have still managed to get some spectacular shots of our newest addition.
The seven male Lions are still separated into two smaller groups at the moment and only meet up occasionally. One group was seen with a female who was spoilt for choice about which one to mate.
Elsewhere we have been seeing Wild Dogs in the Tsum Tsum area once again this month.
Kwando & Linyanti
The Kwando River has also begun its annual rise just as its sister river, the Okavango, has begun to swell. The river has its source through the various tributaries in western Zambia and the rise in February is merely the vanguard from the first rains that fell up there in November. It takes several months for the water to travel down into Botswana just as the pans in the woodlands are beginning to dry.
For now however, the Pans are still full as there has also been healthy rain in Northern Botswana this year. Vast herds of Elephants and Buffalos are dispersed in the Mopane woodlands west of Lagoon camp.
The three Cheetah brothers were seen pulling down an Impala right in front of a safari vehicle close to half way Pan. The ambush was pulled off to perfection with one brother heading off behind the Impalas to cut off their escape. From then on the chosen victim did not really stand a chance.
Hyenas now occupy the old Wild Dog den from 2009 with their own pups protected in the disused termite mound labyrinth of tunnels. Protection and anonymity is vital as three marauding lionesses have been spotted in the vicinity of the den.
Elsewhere, bird and reptile life have been abundant of late. A Snouted Cobra was seen on a game drive and a Mozambique Spitting Cobra was seen close to camp climbing up a Large Fever Berry Tree. Migrant birds are still in the area before their long migration back to Central and Northern Africa and we had an excellent sighting of giant Martial Eagle swooping down and taking an Egyptian Goose in its talons.
Visitors to Lebala this month were stunned to see a strange resident for these parts. A juvenile Lesser Flamingo took up residence in the floodplain directly in front of the drop off area and staff accommodation and stayed for a whole week. These migratory birds are not usually resident in the area and this one was obviously passing through on its way to either Lake Ngami or the Makgadikgadi Pans. Some splendid photos were taken by the fortunate guests.
Elsewhere we have been very fortunate in Wild Dog sightings. Two packs have been regularly sited – one of which contains 16 dogs and the other 9. We have been lucky enough to regularly follow them hunting and they have a high success rate. Strength by numbers usually ensures an Impala or Kudu stands little chance of escape if the dogs are a full team.
We have also been seeing two male Leopards on a fairly regular basis. The choice of prey seems once again to be the hapless Impalas who are being picked on by all the predators this month.
Cheetah and Lions have also been spotted from time to time lying up in the Kalahari Star Apple and Candle Pod Acacias in the middle of the day to protect them from the heat.