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.
What a welcoming committee! We met up with these guys, free to roam wherever they choose, not long after we landed.
They might be thinking who the heck are you and why are you here?
We spent at least a half-hour with a group of giraffes, including these two lounging beside an acacia tree.
We say goodbye to central Namibia’s vast desert with dunes that extend all the way to the very edge of the Atlantic Ocean. Here are a few last glimpses before heading off to a new and radically different landscape.
On our last evening, we see the sun setting in a very fast descent, glowing orange in a cloudless sky.
Early the next morning, the moon, barely visible through the clouds, sets over a long straight road through the desert.
The desert stretches out to distant mountains, with only a solitary tree to dot the landscape.
The animals we saw in Namibia were totally wild, not confined to game parks. The ubiquitous oryx is known as the national animal of Namibia.
And wild ostriches strut around proudly in their native habitat.
I photographed this tropical butterfly in a pavilion thousands of miles away from its native Asian habitat. As is often the case, I do a little investigating and thinking after taking the photo. I learned that many butterflies die in transit despite efforts to package them in the safest way possible. I confess that knowledge ended my interest in photographing captive butterflies. Any future shots by me will be taken in the wild. The argument in favor of butterfly pavilions is that they foster an appreciation of butterflies and educate the public about the need for conservation of threatened habitats around the world.
Here the beaver seems to be nonchalantly munching on a twig. But wait! Is a beaver, symbol of industriousness, ever nonchalant?
This is a custom home the beaver built or helped to build for the family. It’s located in a fine (for beavers, at least) southeastern Virginia neighborhood: The Great Dismal Swamp.
These four images may be the very last ones of penguins that I ever post! Have I said that before?
These penguins, mostly Gentoos, huddle together against the swirling sand of the Falkland Islands.
These stately King penguins are taking a stroll along the shore of South Georgia Island.
Can anyone figure out why this penguin is named a Chinstrap?
And last, but certainly not least, this King penguin chick is not yet ready to learn what will become its most amazing skill: swimming.
First it has to lose the hair!