Have you ever seen a wild elephant take a bath? I never thought I would see such a thing, but I saw quite a few enjoying baths in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, a vast inland river delta that floods and dries each year.
This is the first elephant we encountered on a five-hour boat trip to a lodge in the delta. After we showed up, he got out of the water. That was a difficult process and this ponderous giant seemed loathe to give up the bouyancy that the water provided.
We passed a second elephant standing close to the bank.
We encountered others stepping lightly (for an elephant) on the floor of the marsh…
and quenching their thirst, which is easy this time of year.
The Ana tree grows in many parts of Africa and is commonly found in river beds. It has adapted to withstand waterlogging after heavy rains and also to tolerate long periods of drought by sending its roots deep underground for water. Formerly classified as a type of Acacia, the Ana tree was transferred to its own genus because its annual cycle is the opposite of the Acacia, with the Ana being bare in the summer and in leaf and flower during the winter. So this tree, photographed in springtime, will be soon be losing its leaves.
The African baobab, known for its longevity, stores water in its enormous trunk and produces a nutrient-rich fruit while everything around it is parched. This is why it became known as “The Tree of Life.”
Cape Buffalo are strong, massive, hulks living in sub-Saharan Africa. Also called the African buffalo, they are known to be unpredictable and dangerous in encounters with humans and other animals. These imposing creatures have few predators.
They are bovines, generally found in clusters or in herds, but never domesticated.
Sometimes there are too many to count.
His look seems to say, “Don’t get too close or else.”
One is exactly the number of gnu, also called wildebeest, I photographed in Botswana. Being wary animals and fast runners, many others eluded me. The gnu is another of the large antelope species native to Southern Africa.
Loosely separated from its herd, this gnu is taking a break from grazing on the African savanna.
Zebras are wild equines native to southern and eastern Africa. Famous for their stripes, it has been said that no two are alike.
This mountain zebra, one of the three species of zebras, stopped and looked my way from a ridgeline in central Namibia.
These three are plains zebras, the species I saw frequently in Botswana. A “dazzle” is the name for a group of zebras and these animals do dazzle with their dramatic stripes and their powerful bodies. I actually think the zebra on the right might be pregnant.
A trio of plains zebras blend into this Botswana landscape.
Is this zebra love?
I wonder what these plains zebras are talking about. Is it a serious topic?
It seems hippos are happily snorting wherever they are and this scene of the African bush is no exception. They are very vocal creatures!
Hippos admire their reflections while other species cluster together in herds along the Chobe River in Botswana.
We crossed, but did not speed over, this bridge and a number of others like it in Botswana. At certain times of the year, excepting drought conditions, there would be a marsh underneath.
The impala antelope, which we saw frequently in Botswana, is sprightly, graceful, and swift. You can easily identify it by the black patches above the hooves on the hind legs. These are scent glands, covered with tufts of black hair, which give chemical signals to herd members and may be especially important during a chase.
These impalas appear to be jumping for joy!
In Botswana, we frequently saw lechwe antelopes staring back at us, darting across the bush, or sometimes sparring with each other. Lechwe have varying hues of golden brown fur with white bellies. I didn’t catch one darting…..
but this male is giving me a good look.
These two young males are, we were told, “play fighting”, which involved locking their impressive, spiral horns over and over again. At first, I was skeptical about the fight being playful, but after a few minutes they both gave it up and went their separate ways.