Later in the morning (see last post), we got a taste of animals being less complacent.
This hippo was not making adorable and leisurely snorts like the ones at sunrise. It looks mad as hell, probably at us!
And this female lion didn’t want to share a cape buffalo leg she had carried off from the kill site. It’s as if she is saying, “Mine!”
Our first Botswana camp bordered an inlet populated with hippos whose vocalizations were such a novelty to us. We fell asleep listening to them snort and make bubbling sounds in the water.
Then, in the morning, the rising sun silhouetted their ears poking out of the water.
The first creatures I saw after arriving in Botswana were two birds native to southern Africa.
The first was the Burchell’s glossy starling, which gets its iridescence from a special structure in its feathers that acts as a prism and refracts light.
This exotic beauty, an Egyptian goose, with Hollywood-worthy eye makeup appears to be performing a repertoire on a balance beam.
The elephants in Namibia’s Damaraland are smaller than the typical African elephant. They survive on a more limited diet and have to migrate for miles to drink at desert waterholes. However, they have adapted to this harsher way of life and can live up to three days without water.
They are herbivores – browsing animals that survive on desert brush and trees.
Although not a separate species, they have evolved to have larger feet which help them travel miles across the desert to find water.
Sometimes food is sparse….
…and the terrain is always rugged.
But these elephants are hardy and determined.
A herd gathers together in the afternoon.
Two elephants descend over a hillside to join the herd as the sun sets.
The terrain in Namibia’s Damaraland region features rocky rolling hills and desert vegetation surviving the worst drought in the country’s recent history. It is a landscape dotted with animals that are free to roam. They are not confined to game parks, but may be protected in other ways (as I will mention in a bit).
No animals are visible in this typical landscape, but you can bet some are hiding in the bushes!
A stationary springbok is a rare thing. They are usually seen leaping like ballerinas across the bush. The name “springbok” has everything to do with their mode of transportation and nothing to do with the season of the year! In the distance, a pair of zebras graze along a ridge.
At last, we achieved our wonderful guide’s main goal for the morning: to see some black rhinos. We learned that black rhinos are actually grey, as are white rhinos, with the primary difference being the shape of the upper lip. This little family consists of a mother, baby, and adolescent son. The son had apparently left the mom for a while and then returned. Rhinos are greatly endangered due to the black market in rhino horn; and in this area they are protected by an armed, anti-poaching team from multiple disciplines.
I could call this shot “up a creek without a motor or a paddle” because that is really what happened! The Western Australian tour leader and captain of our tiny craft could not restart the engine after many, many tries over at least forty minutes. He begged some passers-by to lend us one of their oars (“just one, please”), but they declined. Meanwhile, I took this shot and the one below and eventually the motor started.
The agile rock wallaby, which lives in small colonies on rocky cliffs and ledges, is in a different genus from other wallabies more closely related to the kangaroos. There are many types of rock wallabies, and while technically not endangered, many populations have declined and are the subject of scientific study. Rock wallabies are nocturnal so it was a treat to see this one peeking out in broad daylight.
At the same park referenced in my previous post, this family was relaxing in a tree, with baby monkey putting his fingers in mommy’s mouth.