Monthly Archives: July 2014

He an't heavy.........

He an’t heavy………

Plains Zebra Equus quagga (with Red-billed Oxpecker)

The second most numerous migrating animal in the Masai Mara is the Plains Zebra — also called Burchell’s Zebra.

 They are boldly striped in black and white, and no two individuals look exactly alike. They also have black or dark muzzles. All have vertical stripes on the forepart of the body, which tend towards the horizontal on the hindquarters.

The northern populations have narrower and more defined striping; southern populations have varied but lesser amounts of striping on the underparts, the legs and the hindquarters. Southern populations, typically in Namibia Botswana and South Africa, also have brown “shadow” stripes between the black and white colouring. These are absent or poorly expressed in northern zebras.

This image was captured in the Masai Mara Conservancy, south west Kenya, East Africa.

Wheels Down

Wheels Down

White-backed Vulture Gyps africanus

This is a vulture in the family Accipitridae, which also includes eagles, kites, buzzards and hawks. It is closely related to the European Griffon.

The White-backed Vulture is a typical vulture, with only down feathers on the head and neck, very broad wings and short tail feathers. It has a white neck ruff. The adult’s whitish back contrasts with the otherwise dark plumage. Juveniles are largely dark. This is a medium-sized vulture; its body mass is 4.2 to 7.2 kilograms (9.3–16 lb), it is 78 to 98 cm (31 to 39 in) long and has a 1.96 to 2.25 m (6 to 7 ft) wingspan.

Like other vultures it is a scavenger, feeding mostly from carcasses of animals which it finds by soaring over savannah. It also takes scraps from human habitations. It often moves in flocks. It breeds in trees on the savannah of west and east Africa, laying one egg. The population is mostly resident.

As it is rarer than previously believed, its conservation status was reassessed from Least Concern to Near Threatened in the 2007 IUCN Red List. In 2012 it was further up-listed to Endangered.

[Ref: Wikipedia}

This image was captured in the Masai Mara Conservancy, south west Kenya, East Africa.

Seeing Eye to Eye

Seeing Eye to Eye

Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis

This a water kingfisher and is found widely distributed across Africa and Asia. Its black and white plumage, crest and the habit of hovering over clear lakes and rivers before diving for fish makes it distinctive. Males have a double band across the breast while females have a single gorget that is often broken in the middle. They are usually found in pairs or small family parties. When perched, they often bob their head and flick up their tail.

This image was captured on the Chobe River, near Kasane, northern Botswana, Southern Africa.

Morticians Union Meeting

Morticians Union Meeting

Morticians Union Meeting

The Great Migration between Kenya and Tanzania literally involves millions of animals. Giant herds of wildebeest , zebra and Thomson’s Gazelle traverse the vast plains of this part of East Africa following the rains and sprouting of new grass.

An inevitable feature of this annual journey is the death of thousands of animals, which either fall prey to the large predators, succumb to adverse weather conditions or simply prove too weak to complete the trek.

The fact that, relatively speaking, one can find very little physical evidence of these deaths, is solely due to the work of the scavengers. In the main this group is made up of various species of vulture, Marabou Storks and hyena.

Perhaps the most efficient of these scavengers are the vultures, being able to strip a carcass down to clean bone in an extraordinarily short time. Should one witness such an event, it is no exaggeration to say that the carcass literally disappears before one’s eyes! This incredible efficiency to “clean up” has earned the vulture the local nickname of “mortician”.

This image, captured in the Masai Mara conservancy in Kenya, East Africa, shows a number of “morticians” meeting in the shade of a tree. The President of the Morticians Union can be clearly seen in his elevated position right at the top, with his trusted lieutenants overseeing the assembled members.

 

Freedom Frolic

Freedom Frolic

Burchell’s Zebra  Equus quagga burchellii

Burchell’s zebra is a southern subspecies of the plains zebra. It is named after the British explorer and naturalist William John Burchell.

These magnificent animals are plentiful in the Etosha National Park which surrounds the Etosha Pan in northern Namibia. Herds numbering in the hundreds are commonplace in this part of Namibia.

These fine specimens were photographed on the Andoni Flats in the north eastern part of ENP.

Ever Alert

Ever Alert

Cheetah  Acinonyx jubatus

A typical cheetah scene in Etosha National Park. These wonderful examples of this beautiful species were contemplating an attack on some Springbuck grazing about 1000m away. The grassland vegetation provides both concealment and camouflage for these speedy hunters.

Unfortunately for these cheetah, an open grass-denuded area was situated between them and the Springbuck, potentially robbing them of the element of surprise. The hunt was called off shortly after this image was taken.

This image was captured north of Twee Palms water-hole on the eastern side of Etosha Pan, Etosha National Park, Namibia, Southern Africa.

Deep Throat

Deep Throat

Hippopotamus  Hippopotamus amphibius

Images of “yawning” hippos are fairly common — but I particularly like the “sparkle” in this afternoon image of this wonderful creature. The “yawn” is, in fact, not a yawn at all, but a threat display and passive defence mechanism.

This image was captured on the Chobe River, near Kasane, Northern Botswana, Southern Africa.

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast

Blacksmith Lapwing (Plover) Vanellus armatus and Hippopotamus  Hippopotamus amphibius

The Blacksmith Lapwing occurs commonly from Kenya through central Tanzania to southern and southwestern Africa. The vernacular name derives from the repeated metallic ‘tink, tink, tink’ alarm call, which suggests a blacksmith’s hammer striking an anvil.

The hippopotamus is semi-aquatic, inhabiting rivers, lakes and mangrove swamps, where territorial bulls preside over a stretch of river and groups of five to 30 females and young. During the day, they remain cool by staying in the water or mud; reproduction and childbirth both occur in water. They emerge at dusk to graze on grasses. While hippopotamuses rest near each other in the water, grazing is a solitary activity and hippos are not territorial on land. The hippopotamus is one of the most aggressive and unpredictable creatures in the world and, as such, ranks among the most dangerous animals in Africa. Nevertheless, they are still threatened by habitat loss and poaching for their meat and ivory canine teeth.

These two very different sized species live in harmony. The hippo provides a very safe resting place for the plover while the plover in turn helps keep the hippo’s eyes and ears clear of insects. Note how the hippo has folded his right ear to ease the plover’s take-off! Isn’t nature wonderful?

This image was captured on the Chobe River, near Kasane, Northern Botswana, Southern Africa.

 

 

Cooling Off

Cooling Off

African Elephant   Loxodonta africana

These guys walk miles and miles to reach water. Even in the autumn months the daytime temperatures in north-west Botswana are in the thirties (degrees C). The Chobe River acts like a huge magnet for all wildlife in the area; not the least for these huge mammals who thoroughly enjoy a swim and frolic in the cool waters!

This image was captured near Kasane , Northern Botswana, Southern Africa.