Nxai Pan, Nov 2017

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“New Life” was the theme of the month at Nxai Pan during November. Birds were nesting, antelope were dropping their young, jackals had puppies, but the discovery of the month was an aardwolf den with a single cub. Aardwolf resemble a slender hyena in build, but these remarkable insectivores are actually in a separate taxonomic family. They are a prized sighting for any safari-goer, but to see their adorable cub with its black muzzle, pink ears and striped coat was an amazing treat. We were able to see them at the den most days towards the end of the month.

Several dens of black-backed jackals were found by our guides and we watched the adults kill guinea fowl at the Wildlife watering hole on several occasions, sometimes with their puppies watching on. Once we were able to watch the adults regurgitating for their young. The bat-eared foxes were also seen with cubs and were enjoying the increase in beetles and other insects following the early rain showers.

Elephants were increasingly accumulating around our camp watering hole, with numbers upward of 100 individuals seen regularly. Females with young as well as solitary bulls and bachelor herds were all observed in a seemingly never-ending stream during the day. As always, they were extremely protective of their water source, preventing other animals from drinking. Towards the end of the month two wild dogs appeared at the camp watering hole. They looked tired and desperate for a drink, but the elephants refused to let them quench their thirst.

Other species, such as buffalo, wildebeest, giraffe, impala and springbok still came hoping for the opportunity to have a turn at the water, but only rarely given a chance by the stubborn pachyderms. Watching the procession of animals in front of the lodge, and the interaction between them, was described by a guest as being like “non-stop National Geographic channel”.

After having been absent from the area for a little while we were very happy to see two male lions appear next to the staff village and make their way to the watering hole whilst we were having breakfast with our guests. The next day, a single lioness who showed signs of nursing also came to try and drink at the watering hole, but once again, the elephants were having none of it so this mother went away thirsty. The pride of lions comprising two males, three lionesses and six cubs were also seen resting by the old wildlife watering hole. This second source of water had congregations of different kinds of species including springboks with their lambs, giraffe and ostriches. The wildebeest were heavily pregnant so we expect their calving season to start very soon.

The resident cheetah family of three were still doing well and were even seen drinking at the camp watering hole. Another time, we watched them chasing down some springbok more than once and mostly they were very successful, although the sub-adults were still having some problems learning how to make the final kill. On one occasion we saw the two sub-adult females chasing off some jackals who had been following them for some time. The resident male cheetah was also seen in the area and a couple of times he was seen resting with female and her two daughters making a wonderful photographic opportunity of the four cheetahs together.

There was rewarding birding all over the area. Some of the migratory species returned for the summer months including steppe buzzards, black-winged pratincoles, Abdim’s storks and white storks. The ostriches were seen nesting near to the road, proudly brooding 12 eggs.

(Note: Accompanying picture is 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!)

Nxai Pan, October 2017 Sightings

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The month of October is the hottest month of the year in the desert. This year the first rain showers came earlier than usual, right at the end of September, so the trees started responding to the moisture by producing new green leaves. However, these small rainfalls were not sufficient to fill the natural pans, so the two watering holes artificially pumped with water by Kwando Safaris and Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) continued to be visited by huge numbers of animals.

Big herds of elephants from all directions came in every morning to the camp watering hole and stayed all day and most of the night, usually moving off to browse after midnight. The elephants were very protective over the water supply and rarely gave other animals a chance to drink, however we saw a new and interesting change in their behaviour. They were seen time and again giving way to a herd of buffalo who boldly came to drink, demanding respect from the elephants who allowed them complete access to the water until their thirst was quenched. The elephants were not as tolerant of the lions and one noisy night the elephants and lions roared at each other continuously as they debated drinking rights. In the morning we saw a pride of 11 lions still waiting for the elephants to move so that they could have access to water. The lions had the final word though; a few days later the two males were seen feasting on an elephant calf, surrounded by vultures. They stayed on this carcass for three days.

Because the camp watering hole continued to be the favourite place for the elephants to hang out, other animals were congregating at the Department of Wildlife watering hole. There we saw lots of springbok, impalas, kudu, wildebeest, zebras, ostriches and other birds. The springbok had started to drop their lambs. It was pleasant experience just to sit at this spot and watch the constant procession of creatures and birds coming to drink. Black-backed jackal were usually to be found in the area, chasing guinea fowl, occasionally with success.

One morning as we were at this watering hole there was a pride of 3 lionesses with 6 cubs. A few minutes later we saw springbok, wildebeest, zebras, impalas and ostriches coming to drink. The lionesses were alert and waiting for their moment to pounce. We watched for over an hour whilst they sized up the various prey animals and eventually they killed a zebra fifty metres away from the road. These lionesses stayed there for a day and the following morning we found different lionesses from the Nxai pride, two females with three larger cubs, on the same kill.

As we were watching the lionesses with cubs feeding on a zebra we saw some springbok running very fast about a kilometre away so we quickly drove that in that direction to see what was going on. We got there in time to see that 3 cheetah had managed to take down a springbok. This was a mother with her two sub-adult offspring. A different male cheetah was also seen during the month.

Day trips to Baines Baobabs continued to be rewarding and our guests always enjoy the salt pans, ancient trees and beautiful landscape. Game in the area included oryx, springbok, steenbok, warthogs, ostriches, kori bustards and many other birds.

(Note: Accompanying picture is 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!)

Nxai Pan, September 2017 Sightings

jvarley.Cat1 Elephant wallow

As the ongoing dry and hot season progressed, animal interactions were concentrated between the two water sources in the park, our own camp watering hole, right outside the main area, and the water point provided by the National Parks authority. Guests were able to enjoy relaxing drives watching the interactions between different species as they congregated to quench their thirst.

The Nxai Pan resident pride of lions were seen regularly during the month and were fifteen individuals in total including seven sisters, two dominant males and six cubs. Two of the females and the two large males were found on an elephant carcass near to camp. Our staff had been worried about the health of that particular elephant and had even called out the wildlife officers to check on it. We are not sure if it was eventually brought down by the lions, or died of natural causes, but the lions made the most of this enormous meal stayed on it for several days. It seems that they developed a taste for the meat because a few days later the same two males were found on an elephant baby kill. During the previous night we had heard roaring and screaming from the distressed herd.  The three females with six cubs tended to stay near to the National Parks watering hole; the antelope species were congregated there since the elephants were being aggressively dominant at the camp watering hole. The lions were seen eating zebra and kudu; the fast-growing family seem to be doing very well.

Our resident cheetahs, a single male and a mother with her sub-adult cubs were still in the area and appeared to be in very good shape. We watched the female taking down a springbok; it was an interesting sighting because the female cheetah did not kill the antelope outright. She paralysed it and waited for the sub adults to figure out how to finish the job. Time and again we watched them failing and coming mewing back to their mother for help but she was determined to make them learn from the experience, aggressively chasing off jackals who were impatiently waiting to scavenge. During September the youngsters were extremely energetic and curious, trying to practice their hunting skills on almost every animal they encountered including bat-eared foxes, jackals and wildebeest. However, at this stage they are lacking patience in stalking, bursting forward much too soon to be successful.

Just watching and waiting at the watering holes provided a continuous source of interesting action. Lanner falcons could be seen hunting doves, lions were stalking antelope and jackals were opportunistically looking for any opportunity to pounce or scavenge. On one occasion, a martial eagle managed to snatch a guinea fowl; it struggled to get airborne quickly with its heavy load and four jackals were seen running full speed hoping that the bird would drop its kill as it approached the trees.

Elephants were still seen in huge numbers, especially at the camp watering hole. Guests were thrilled to be able to watch the interaction between large bulls and breeding herds on a daily basis.  As guests were enjoying breakfast one morning a jackal was chasing guinea fowl. As the birds flew up into the air, the jackals ran around the elephants who started to shake their ears in irritation. Somehow in the process one elephant accidentally swatted a guinea fowl to the ground and it was eagerly scooped up by the lucky jackal.  On 29th September, just before Botswana’s Independence Day, Nxai Pan received some very welcome heavy showers which allowed the elephants some respite to look for water and food elsewhere.

Our day trips to Baines Baobabs continue to be a highlight for many guests. The birdlife is rewarding, with numerous species of passerines, including kestrels nesting in the acacia trees. After the rains at the end of the month we started to see some creatures, such as leopard tortoises, reappear after their hibernation.

(Note: Accompanying picture is 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!)

Nxai Pan, August 2017 Sightings

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The climate started to change during August, with night time temperatures increasing from lows of five degrees Celcius at the start of the month, to above fifteen degrees by the end of the month. Day time temperatures started to push above thirty degrees. The hotter days and lack of rainfall meant that game was heavily concentrated around sources of water, and our camp watering hole was by no means an exception.

Elephants tended to dominate the watering hole for the majority of every day – a spectacular sight for our guests to enjoy from the lodge, but rather problematic for the other animals who were forced to visit at first light before the pachyderms took over. Regular early morning visitors included kudu and a herd of eight buffalo. Spotted hyena were also seen at the camp watering hole, much to the consternation of some resident warthogs who finished their drinks very quickly before scurrying off into the bush with tails raised in alarm.

The Nxai Pan pride of 16 lions were also seen regularly and had divided into three groups:
Three females with three cubs aged thirteen months
Two females with four cubs of 6-8 months
Two sub-adult lionesses of approximately two years who are independent of the main pride.
The male lions moved between all three groups and were often seen near to camp.

The road that cuts through the middle of Nxai Pan was productive for smaller predators including regular sightings of the highly-prized aardwolf and numerous bat-eared foxes.

Cheetah sightings included a mother with her two offspring – now classified as sub-adults rather than cubs since they are more than a year old. A single male cheetah has also been located frequently. Both male and female leopard tracks were located in the camp area, though the cats themselves remained elusive.

The trip to Baines Baobabs was quieter in terms of game, but the view has changed. The trees have lost their leaves and are silhouetted against the dry, dusty pan. The landscape is much more open now that the lush summer vegetation has been grazed down.

The rise in temperatures meant that we started to see birds who are more associated with warmer weather in the region, such as the yellow-billed kite, red-capped lark and rufous-naped lark.

(Note: Accompanying picture is 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!)

Nxai Pan, July 2017

jvarley.Cat5 Elephant at waterhole

The days of lush green grass were now a distant memory as Nxai Pan fully converted to its semi-arid winter state. The vegetation was now predominantly grey and gold, allowing animals such as elephant, lion, cheetah and oryx to blend in perfectly with the colours and textures of the desert landscape.

During July, elephants continued to favour the camp watering hole in large numbers and our water pumps were running overtime to keep up with their insatiable thirst. Elephants are however not the cleanest of visitors, so every day it was necessary for our staff to clear the watering hole of mud and dung so that the elephants would find it suitable for drinking. The camp staff were only too well aware that failing to keep the water clean would mean the elephants coming to drink from the camp infrastructure, with expensive consequences. Maintenance of the watering hole is a ‘housekeeping’ service on a massive scale, but it gives our guests the privileged opportunity to see these magnificent animals drinking, bathing and interacting close to the lodge.

Unusually for Nxai Pan, a clan of spotted hyena have also started to visit the watering hole each morning. Bat-eared foxes and black-backed jackal are still regularly sighted.

The resident female cheetah with two sub-adults was located regularly in a beautiful area near to Nxai Pan. Her offspring are now approximately 10 months old and that means that the male will most likely be with her until the beginning of 2018 and the female for about 6 months longer. Now is a critical time for them to hone their hunting skills. On one occasion, they were seen dashing around; we initially thought that they were playing, but in fact they were chasing a bat-eared fox. Occasionally cheetah will kill and eat the foxes, but mostly they are just trying to drive them away so that they can’t disturb their hunt. The two youngsters were seen to be extremely relaxed around our vehicles, testament to the fact that the guides have patiently earned their trust since they were small cubs.

The Nxai Pan pride has now split into three different groups: 4 lionesses with 5 cubs of 2-3 months old, another pair of lionesses with 3 cubs of a similar age and finally a single lioness who we suspect has a newborn cub hidden nearby – from her engorged teats it seems likely that she is nursing. The male lions move between the different groups. One time a male lion was seen very intently focused on some wildebeest. Our guests held their breath as he started to stalk…. and then he promptly flopped down and fell straight asleep.  Food was clearly not his priority that particular day.

The general game is not as rich as during the green season, however wildebeest and springbok are still in the area. Oryx were seen near to Baines Baobabs area eating the tiger foot morning glory and digging for other sources of nutrients and moisture including the Kalahari water tuber. These desert-adapted antelope sensing that the dry season is where survival of the fittest is tested to the maximum.

Our guides were surprised to see a couple of bird species not usually seen at this time of year including the rufous-naped lark and yellow-billed kite. Ostriches were still plentiful and were just entering their breeding season, the males’ lower legs taking on a redder appearance during this important time of year. Other bird species commonly seen were helmeted guineafowl, kori bustard and northern black korhaan, the latter quiet when compared to the noisy summer displays that they produce.

(Note: Accompanying picture is 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!)

 

Nxai Pan, June 2017

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Nxai Pan camp was closed during June for its scheduled annual maintenance. This meant that we didn’t get to explore our wider game drive areas in the usual way, however the sanding and drilling did not in any way deter the animals flocking to the camp watering hole to drink and wallow.

Elephants, both breeding herds and large bulls, are continuing to show up in huge numbers and are draining water as fast as we can pump it. One even came and drank our swimming pool dry before it was repainted. It is a challenge for the camp staff and maintenance team to keep these thirsty animals satisfied to the extent that they don’t come investigating into the camp itself for other water sources, but their presence is always a thrill.

Buffalo were also seen during the month, mainly bulls in the morning and a breeding herd in the afternoon.

Other species observed drinking at the watering hole during the month included 3 cheetah, lots of giraffe, wildebeest and zebra.

(Note: Accompanying picture is 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!)

Nxai Pan, May 2017

jvarley.Cat1 Elephant wallow

As Nxai Pan approached winter time there were lots of changes to animal behaviour and vegetation. The weather became colder and the pans started to dry up leaving two watering holes as the only sources of water. The camp watering hole was by far the busiest, being topped up daily via an eco-friendly water recycling system from our camp. Several species were seen here including buffalo, wildebeest, impala, a small harem of zebra and giraffe however the elephants remained dominant over this precious resource and were seen in their hundreds over the course of the month. The camp main area provided a great place to sit and watch the animal interactions during the day.

The Nxai Pan pride were covering more ground to search for food but were seen regularly. The pride still comprised two strong and healthy dominant males and seven lionesses. Two of the lionesses each had three young and all six cubs were doing well. During the month four of the females managed to kill a female giraffe and her calf – a massive feast which they and the six cubs enjoyed for a whole week. These tiny cubs appeared to have no fear of the game viewers which they approached in a bold manner.

The Nxai Pan pride were covering more ground to search for food but were seen regularly. The pride still comprised two strong and healthy dominant males and seven lionesses. Two of the lionesses each had three young and all six cubs were doing well. During the month four of the females managed to kill a female giraffe and her calf – a massive feast which they and the six cubs enjoyed for a whole week. These tiny cubs appeared to have no fear of the game viewers which they approached in a bold manner.

A mother cheetah with her now sub-adult cubs were still thriving and seen in different areas, often on a kill. We had great sightings along Middle Road where we saw them trying their luck on a springbok. The cubs were stalking whilst their mother was watching and seemed to be coordinating their behaviour. A single male cheetah was seen resting twice in the southern part of the area and is looking healthy.

An exciting discovery was made towards the end of the month when we identified tracks of a female leopard with very small cubs near to the airstrip. Although we haven’t managed to see the cats themselves yet, we hope that we will find them soon.

As the grasses were cropped shorter by grazers, the landscape opened up and it became easier to see some of the small cats and genets. African Wild Cat were seen, and we were thrilled to see a caracal mother with a kitten around the camp island. Wild dogs were located on the easterly side of the pan. Aardwolf were encountered foraging several times along middle road, sometimes in close proximity with bat-eared foxes and being followed by Cape Crows. We are hopeful that the aardwolf might be denning in the area as they were seen very regularly.

The birdlife in the Nxai Pan was still outstanding. Many birds flocked at the camp watering hole in the early mornings before flying further afield to look for food.

Our trips to Baines Baobabs remained a highlight for many guests during their stay at Nxai Pan. The day is planned to include a picnic lunch so that the guides can take their time to show varied aspects of this semi-arid ecosystem including different terrain, sandy areas, trees and grasses. The salt pan towards the famous trees had less water and was tinted red due to an accumulation of algae. The baobabs were losing their leaves so were starting to look quite different. Animals seen along the route included elephants, oryx, steenbok, springbok and ostrich. General game in the Nxai Pan area was starting to disperse but there were still good sightings also including kudu, wildebeest, zebra and giraffe.

The clear winter desert nights produced a dazzling display of stars. A spectacular experience, especially when accompanied by the musical sounds of jackal calling from the camp watering hole.

(Note: Accompanying picture is 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!)

Nxai Pan, April 2017

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April was a very successful month for lion sightings at Nxai Pan. The resident pride consisting of two dominant males and seven lionesses were seen on just about every drive, though sometimes in smaller groups.

In the middle of the month two lionesses killed a wildebeest just fifty metres from the camp watering hole. The following morning two male lions came and took the kill from the lionesses. Guests watched as one male fed alone, aggressively pushing away his hungry partner every time he tried to come closer. That afternoon game drive continued on, but the guides decided it would be worth checking back on the lions as they returned to camp. The dominant male was still eating and the other male appeared to have given up and was sleeping in the shade. A group of buffalo then showed up and passed by a few metres from the lions. The hungry male stood up and looked at the buffalo who quickly went into the bush. The lion let them take cover but started to stealthily stalk. A few minutes later he attacked and managed to grab one young buffalo whilst the rest of the herd galloped away. Our guests watched amazed as the lion and the buffalo struggled; eventually the lion called in the other male who quickly came and took hold of the buffalo’s throat to finish the kill. Once his duty was done he surprised us by leaving the buffalo and returning back to his own wildebeest dinner. The two lions each stayed on their own kills for the next five days, providing amazing viewing very close to the camp watering hole.

The lionesses of the Nxai Pan pride were also found full-bellied and looking very healthy. Two of the females each have three new cubs and all six of the babies appeared to be doing well. At one stage in the month these small families hadn’t been seen for a while, so guides believed that they had followed the returning zebra migration, but the lionesses and cubs reappeared about 10 days later. An unusual behaviour was seen when a lioness of the Tau Pan pride was seen fighting with her sub-adult daughters. Such squabbles can happen over food, but it didn’t appear to be the case this time. Eventually one of the male lions came in to settle the dispute and restore order within the pride.

April was also a great month for cheetah sightings and these cats were encountered on almost every game drive, sometimes resting, but often in hunting mode too. Sightings became easier due to the grass has being cropped shorter by the grazers and also because the springbok herds, which the cheetah follow, moved towards the edges of the pan, thus closer to the game drive roads. A female cheetah with her cubs was spotted regularly, as well as the solitary resident male. Black-backed jackal were often seen following these cats around the pan area.

Numbers of elephants at the camp watering hole increased during the month as the natural watering holes started to dry up. Big groups of bulls spent the hottest part of the day at the watering hole, conveniently arriving at brunch time and remaining throughout the afternoon, providing great viewing for guests during siesta time. During April breeding herds also started to show up late in the afternoon to drink and then move on. Other notable visitors to the camp watering hole were a mixed herd of male and female buffalo, and a journey of giraffe who frequented regularly in the late afternoons.

General game in the area was rewarding during April. Although most of the zebra moved on with the return migration, some small herds remained as well as plentiful numbers of springbok, kudu, giraffes and wildebeest.

Bird sightings continued to be excellent, especially on the day trip to Baines Baobabs. Species seen included Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Shaft-tailed Whydah, Acacia Pied Barbet and Crimson-breasted Shrike. A barn owl was seen hunting and successfully catching its dinner right in the camp main area.

Nxai Pan, March 2017

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Prize for sighting of the month across all the Kwando camps surely had to go to the surprise arrival of two hippos at the Nxai Pan watering hole. To find these highly water-dependant animals in a (normally) semi-arid desert environment is testament to the incredible rains throughout Botswana that the early part of 2017 will be remembered for. Bearing in mind that Nxai Pan is hundreds of kilometres from the nearest permanent river, these two animals must have had quite a journey, stopping at rain-filled pans and natural watering holes along the way. Many of our Kalahari-born staff had never seen a hippo before, so the arrival of these large, strange creatures caused great excitement. The bushman tracker was initially perplexed when he initially spotted the tracks, having never seen such a creature in the area before. Even when the guide identified the footprints there was a good deal of disbelief at the thought of desert-dwelling hippos. The animals stayed around for a couple of days before they headed off to their next destination. Now that the weather is drying up again we hope that they reach the safety of a permanent river soon.

The camp watering hole was a popular spot for a wide range of species during March. A bachelor herd of six buffalo bulls were regularly seen, and two big breeding herds of buffalo used the watering hole before continuing on to the southern area of the pan. Elephant bulls showed up at brunch-time each day to drink and bathe. A large breeding herd of elephants also returned to the area, coming for water before disappearing into the bush.  In the afternoons, zebra came to drink in massive numbers, as well as wildebeest, springbok and many giraffes.

With so many animals congregating in the region it is no surprise that predators were seen regularly. The resident lion pride of seven sisters and two dominant males were seen almost every day last month. The two males were mating with one of the lionesses for a week. Two separate lionesses showed off their 3 cubs during March, each family having two females and a male cub.  These six cubs are all about 8 weeks old and were hidden in safety during their most vulnerable stage. A group of lucky guests were able to witness one of these lionesses moving her cubs to a new den site, carrying one in her mouth with the other two following behind. It appears that some of the other females of the pride are also pregnant, so we hope to have a very sizable pride at Nxai Pan soon.

This baby boom is not restricted to the lions. A female cheetah was seen with brand new cubs. Towards the end of the month cheetah were seen on every single drive. The regularly- seen mother cheetah with her two sub-adult cubs were making the most of the congregations of springbok in the middle of the pan and were in excellent condition. There was also a single male cheetah in the area who appeared to be doing well.

Bird watching was at its best during March, with many sightings of eagles, hawks and kestrels. There were lots of Kori Bustard in the area and ostriches with chicks in the Pan.  Summer migrants included both Blue-cheeked and Southern Carmine Bee-eaters. Due to the abundant rain, waterbirds such as Abdim’s, Yellow-billed and Saddle-billed Storks were unusually in the area. A Spotted Eagle Owl was seen many times returning from evening game drive.

Guests making the day trip to Baines Baobabs were rewarded with spectacular view of the pans which were filled with water. The birdlife was incredible and oryx were resident in large numbers.

As always, our guides were keen to show guests a wide range of wildlife species and other notable sightings during March included honey badgers, black-backed jackals and bat-eared foxes. Basking snakes included black mambas and a rock python. A small spotted genet was sometimes encountered in the evening on the walkway when taking guests to their rooms.

 

Nxai Pan, February 2017

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The whole of Botswana has experienced a bountiful rainy season and the Nxai Pan area was no exception. The pans have filled with water, attracting some species that would never usually be seen area. For instance, a breeding herd of buffalo with their calves who came to drink at the camp watering hole. Buffalo are highly water-dependent, so this is not a species that you would normally associate with the desert – proof that 2017 has been an extraordinary year for rains and foliage growth. In fact, there has been so much water in Nxai Pan that wading birds have even appeared including White Storks, Wooly-Necked Storks, Abdim’s Storks and Hamerkops.

From the start of February the numbers of zebras dramatically increased to a point where thousands of zebras were being seen all the way from the camp to the pans, travelling in large groups. At this point the migration is at its peak; guests sitting in the main area or enjoying siesta time in their rooms are treated to the spectacle of massed herds of zebra and wildebeest grazing and drinking from the camp watering hole. There are large numbers of babies within the herds. We have seen a number of zebra with big wounds that could well be from lion attacks.

Indeed, the resident pride of lions has been seen often in the area, the abundant food supply keeping them in close proximity to the zebra herds. During February, lions were heard calling nearly every day, sometimes close to camp. At the moment, the pride numbers seven lionesses with two dominant males. Two of the females are showing signs that they are nursing so we are hoping to get a glimpse of their cubs soon. They are always found in the same area, near to an island, so we think that they are hiding their cubs away from threats, including other male lions. Despite travelling in large herds for protection some zebra inevitably fall prey to the lions and it is not surprising that the lions were usually seen full-bellied or on kills given the availability of game. The collared male was seen mating with a young lioness of about 3 years.

The springbok herds have had their lambs and are concentrated towards the centre of the pans where the wide-open areas give them good visibility to spot predators. A female cheetah with two cubs is still frequently seen in the pan area, as well as two solitary males.

New journeys of giraffe are also arriving, with up to 15 being seen at a time, many with young babies.

A number of guests cited the trip to Baines Baobabs as being the highlight of their stay during February. The pan is full of water and spectacular herds numbering hundreds of oryx have been found near to the famous baobab trees. Other species seen in that area were red hartebeest, springbok and warthogs. Leopard tracks were also spotted by our keen-eyed tracker, although the cat itself proved elusive.

A few bull elephants have been visiting the pan area, but their densities are very much less than in the peak of the dry season and for now they seem content with the natural water available in the park. No doubt they will return en-masse to the camp watering hole (and occasionally the swimming pool) once the weather starts to dry up.

Honey badgers have been spotted and guests particularly enjoyed a spectacular sighting of different bat-eared fox families, including cubs, interacting near camp. Black-backed jackals are frequently seen.