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Lions were seen on the majority of the days during February and guests were often serenaded at night by the sound of nearby roars as the Tau Pan pride made contact with each other. As is often the case at Tau Pan, we came across the cats in groups of varying sizes, including a sizable pride of twelve lions which was regularly seen towards Letia Hau, comprising three males, two lionesses and seven young. One of the times that pride was feasting on a wildebeest kill. The camp watering hole was frequented by the lions very regularly including a female with a cub and the impressive black-maned resident males.
A brown hyena continued to be seen at the watering hole, especially at dawn and dusk. However another individual was less fortunate and we found its carcass nearby, possibly killed as a result of conflict with lions.
An African wild cat was seen a few times hunting mice around the Tau Pan areas, and lucky guests were able to capture some photographs of this elusive mammal. Honey badgers were also seen digging for rodents in the same area. Pale Chanting Goshawks were seen keeping a close eye on the honey badgers, hoping to steal some food, but their reactions were too slow to be successful. Black-backed jackal, ground squirrels and bat-eared foxes were seen most days. However, some more unusual sightings of a Cape fox and the elusive aardwolf were great to have. Cheetahs were located at Passarge Valley.
In a very unusual encounter, we came across elephants in Deception Valley – a female and calf. Elephants haven’t been seen in that area by us for many years. They were resting in the shade – although the day was cloudy, it was scorching.
Following heavy rains towards the end of February plains game species such as oryx, springbok and wildebeest moved into the Tau Pan area to take advantage of the new green shoots of grass. The springbok herds were estimated to be as large as 300 animals and made a spectacular sight as they ran and pronked at sunset. Steenbok were regularly seen, and there was a small herd of red hartebeest at Phokoje Pan. A journey of eleven giraffes was often seen.
Birdlife continued to be excellent at Tau Pan, especially for the Raptors. Species seen included pallid harrier, gabar goshawk, tawny eagle, black-chested snake eagle, brown snake eagle and yellow-billed kite. A pair of bateleur eagles started building a nest near to camp. Kori bustards and secretary birds could be seen stalking across the pans looking for food. We had a remarkable sighting of 45 ostrich chicks in one flock, being sought after by two sets of parents.
The northern black korhaans and red-crested korhaans could be seen displaying. In the case of the latter, the male flies straight up and then dramatically tumbles towards the ground as though shot.
Although the first half of the month was fairly dry for the time of year, the clouds were building up each afternoon making for some spectacular sunset shots. Once the rains came, the bush sprang to life and was beautiful and green.