Wildebeest, Cape Buffalo and Warthogs

Momma Warthog and Babies

Mama Warthog and Babies, Addo Elephant Park, South Africa, AUG 2016

Everybody gets excited about the big cats, the elephants, the hippos and other big game.  But there is a lot more out there and I will be sharing it over the next few weeks.  Today, I’ll share my images of the wildebeest, also known as the Gnu, the cape buffalo and the warthog.

The wildebeest and cape buffalo are grazers, eating the grass that grow in the savannahs.  The warthog grazes on the grass and digs for roots.  Their place in the ecosystem is controlling the plant life so it doesn’t take over and serving as food for the larger prey animals.  Though not as exciting as the big cats, they are each beautiful in their own way.

Regards,

Larry

 

Note: Click on images to view in larger size

Cape Buffalo - P1

Cape Buffalo – Perspective 1, Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

Wildebeest (Gnu) - P4

Wildebeest – Perspective 4, Kruger National Park, South Africa, AUG 2016

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Wildebeest – Perspective 3, Kruger National Park, South Africa, AUG 2016

Cape Buffalo - P2

Cape Buffalo – Perspective 2, Addo Elephant Park, South Africa, AUG 2016

 

 

These and other images are available for purchase at my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting me at: larry@earthwatcher.us.

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Leopards

Karula's Unnamed Cub

Karula’s Unnamed Cub – Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

A highlight of our visit was the Elephant Plains Game Lodge tour guided by Tusk Photo.  Elephant Plains is a private game lodge and is the “go to” place for leopards.  It sets on the edge of Kruger National Park and it shares its wildlife with the park.  So, aside from the leopards we saw a lot of other wildlife on that part of our adventure.

We did an early morning and a late/afternoon game drive each day. We traversed the bush in open 4-wheel drive vehicles on rutted dirt roads.  We had a tracker who sat on a jump seat attached to the front bumper who, along with our driver, looked for tracks and other signs of animal life.  When leopard tracks were spotted or another tour group reported a sighting, we went off road with the vehicle to find them.  It was fun and exciting.

It’s hard to describe the awe of our first wild leopard sighting and the wonder of seeing 14 month old Tiyani walk to within 5 feet of our car while her mother looked on.  The wildlife is acclimated to humans and their tour groups.  They went about their business as if we weren’t there.  But, if the guides sensed that the animal was disturbed, we’d back off and leave them in peace.

It was an amazing adventure.  I’d go back in a heartbeat.  I hope you enjoy these images.

Regards,

Larry

Note: Click on image to see in larger size.

Salayexe

Salayexe – Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

Karula's Unnamed Cub

Karula’s Unnamed Cub – Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

Karula's Unnamed Cub

Karula’s Unnamed Cub – Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

Karula with Unnamed Cub

Karula with Unnamed Cub – Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

Karula with Unnamed Cub

Karula with Unnamed Cub – Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

Tingana

Tingana – Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

Tingaia

Tingana – Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

Salayexe

Salayexe – Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

Salayexe and Tiyani

Salayexe and Tiyani – Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

Tiyani

Tiyani – Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

Titani

Tiyani – Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

Tingana

Tingana – Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

These and other images are available for purchase at my website: http://www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting me at larry@earthwatcher.us

Elephants

Nuzzling

Nuzzling, Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

Today, 9/22, is National Elephant Appreciation Day; yes, really it is.  So, to celebrate, I decided to publish my elephant pics from South Africa.

Our elephant experience was interesting.  I learned that they are not subtle animals.  You only have to look at the broken brush, trees and branches as well as the trail of dung to know elephants have been through.  Elephants eat a lot but only digest a small portion of what they eat.  Their dung becomes a source of food for other animals.  At Addo Elephant National Park, they have signs warning you not to run over dung beetles because they are the clean-up crew and are an important part of the ecosystem.

I knew from documentaries that elephants are very protective of their young.  But, it was interesting to see it in action.  When elephants didn’t feel threatened, the calves romped and played.  At the first sign of threat, the adults herded the young in between them.  It is really neat to see this behavior firsthand.

I hope you enjoy my images of these fascinating creatures.

Regards

Larry

Note: 1) Click on image to see in larger size

2) These and other images are available for purchase at http://www.earthwatcher.us or by contacing larry@earthwatcher.us

Coming to the Water Hole - P1

Coming to the Water Hole – Perspective 1.  Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

Coming to the Water Hole - P2

Coming to the Water Hole – Perspective 2. Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

Ready for a Swig

Ready for a Swig. Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

Calf at the Water Hole

Calf at the Water Hole. Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

Elephant Calf

Elephant Calf. Kruger National Park, South Africa, AUG 2016

Along the Game Trail - P1

Along the Game Trail – Perspective 1. Kruger National Park, South Africa, AUG 2016

Along the Game Trail - P2

Along the Game Trail – Perspective 2. Kruger National Park, South Africa, AUG 2016

Foraging at Sunset

Foraging at Sunset. Kruger National Park, South Africa, AUG 2016

Calf at the Mud Hole

Calf at Mud Hole. Addo Elephant Park, South Africa, AUG 2016

Momma and Baby - P1

Momma and Baby – Perspective 1. Kruger National Park, South Africa, AUG 2016

Dolphins in the Surf

Dolphins in the Surf

Mboyti River Lodge, Lusikisiki, South Africa, AUG 2016

Sometimes you are lucky and are at the right place and right time. We spent one night at Mboyti River Lodge, Lusikisiki, South Africa; a lovely place along the Indian Ocean coast. I got up early in the morning hoping to get a nice sunrise shot. I did and will share it later. I found a nice spot, on a small embankment overlooking the ocean. As I scanned the ocean, I saw a few dolphins. Over the next few minutes a whole pod showed up – probably 30 of them. I have wanted a shot of the dolphins in the surf line for a long time. This morning, they put on a great show for me. I hope you enjoy this image.

Note: Click on image to see it in a larger size.

Baboons

Pensive Baboon

Pensive Baboon, Kruger National Park, South Africa, AUG 2016

My wife says that Baboons are wretched creatures.  They look like monkeys but have an unsettling grunt and 3 inch canine teeth.  When we stayed at Elephant Plains Game Lodge, we were awoken each morning by their unnerving growls that sounded like they were right outside our door and on our roof.  The Leopard’s growl wasn’t as unsettling as the Baboon’s.

Baboons are very smart; especially when it comes to acquiring food.  We were warned to keep our doors locked because they can open doors and will trash your room looking for food.  At one stop, I watched a baboon open a garbage can and grab some leftovers.  We were also warned that they will grab bags you may be carrying or steal food from your table.

Though they can be a fearsome nuisance, they are also fun to watch.  They are fellow primates and I could see some of us in them.  We watched them jumping and chasing each other through trees and over rocks.  We watched them groom each other and care for their young.  Wretched, maybe. Scary, sometimes.  Interesting and fun to watch, absolutely.

I hope you enjoy these images.

Regards,

Larry

Note: Images can be viewed at a larger size by clicking on image.

Infant Baboon

Infant Baboon, Kruger National Park, South Africa, AUG 2016

Grooming the Little Baboon

Grooming Little Baboon, Kruger National Park, South Africa, AUG 2016

Baboon - Perspective 3

Baboon – Perspective 3, Kruger National Park, South Africa, AUG 2016

These and other images are available for purchase at my website: http://www.earthwatcher.us or by contactin larry@earthwatcher.us.

The Lions

A Coalition of Male Lions

Coalition of Male Lions, Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

We had 4 lion sightings on our trip. Unfortunately, on the best opportunity, a female babysitting the pride’s cubs, I had to shoot through the windshield because we couldn’t get a good position. As is expected, lions draw big crowds and lot of folks beat us to the site. So, with that, I’ll tell you that my lion images aren’t of the quality I typically post. I posted them more because I thought they would be interesting.

Except for the cubs, lions like to lay down and sleep most of the time. Our first encounter was with 3 males. Except for one who took a few minutes to look at us, they all laid down and closed their eyes as if we weren’t there. The best shots came at night, in Kruger, when we encountered a mating pair. When mating, the male and female roam together, away from the pride, for three days. We watched and photographed them for 15-20 minutes before they walked off into the bush.

By the way, I learned something about lions while I was there. A pride of lions is a group of females and cubs. They have a territory but live in a territory that is controlled by a coalition of male lions; usually brothers. One male in the coalition is the alpha.

I hope you find these shots interesting. Again, my apologies on the quality.

Regards

Larry

Note: Click on image to view it in a larger size

Female Lion and Cubs

Female Lion with Cubs, Kruger National Park, South Africa, AUG 2016

Male Lion

Male Lion, Kruger National Park, South Africa, AUG 2016

Lions, Mating Pair - P1

Mating Pair – Perspective 1, Kruger National Park, South Africa, AUG 2016

Lions, Mating Pair - P2

Mating Pair – Perspective 2, Kruger National Park, South Africa, AUG 2016

These and other images can be purchase on my website: http://www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry@earthwatcher.us

Hippopatamus – The Battle for Dominance

 

A Pensive Hippo

The Pensive Hippo, Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

I was very surprised by the number of hippopotamus we saw on our visit to South Africa.  I expected to see some but their numbers really surprised me.  As we travelled and spoke with guides/rangers we learned that despite what we saw this year has been devastating for the hippo population.  Drought has dried up rivers and significantly impacted the amount of grass available for foraging.  Typical hippo behavior is to spend the daytime hours in the water and forage at night.  They also spend time on the shore sunbathing in the warm sun.  Drought has forced them to travel further distances to find food and, in some cases, they just aren’t finding enough.

With water in short supply, maintaining a place to drink and soak during the day is important.  In the game lodges, as well as in Kruger, we saw many man made water holes filled by pumping groundwater.  Many were filled with pumps driven by windmills.  These water holes are a win-win.  They provide water for animals and a place for tourists to visit and watch them.   Part of me rails against such an unnatural arrangement, but in the end, I am alright with it.  It’s part of the vicious cycle: tourists come to see animals in the wild, animals need habitat and protection, habitat and protection costs money, tourists bring money.

There is an older hippo who claims the water hole at Elephant Plains Game Lodge as his own.  While were there, the hippo returned from foraging to find another male had moved in.  A fight ensued.  Hippo fights are noisy affairs accompanied by wide stretched jaws and attacks with sharp teeth.  They fight until one backs down or is killed.

One of the iconic pictures of hippos and rhinos shows them with the oxpecker bird on their backs.  The relationship is symbiotic but benefits the bird more than the hippo or rhino.  The oxpecker eats ticks on the beast but also eats fly larvae that grow in the wounds incurred by these animals.

I hope you enjoy these hippo images.  Please look closely at the battle pictures.  These beasts can be very scary and aggressive.

Regards,

Larry

Note: The images can be seen in larger size by clicking on the image or by visiting the Hippos Gallery on my website: https://larryklink.smugmug.com/South-African-Adventure-2016/Hippos/

Don't Mess WIth Me

Don’t Mess With Me, Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

Your in MY watering hole

He returned from foraging and found another male inhabitng his water hole. He gave his warning. Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

The Face Off

The Face Off, Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

The Challenge

The Challenge, Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

This Round is Underway

The Round is Underway, Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

The Round Continues

The Round Continues, Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

Attack and Defense

Attack and Defense, Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

Battle Over

The Battle is Over, After many rounds, the battle is over, the challenger is vanquished. Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

Time to Relax

Time to Relax, Hippo and Oxpecker, Elephant Plains Game Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

Sunbathing

Sunbathing, Kruger National Park, South Africa, AUG 2016

Foraging Hippo

Foraging Hippo, Kruger National Park, South Africa, AUG 2016

Hippo in Reflection

Hippo in Reflection, Kruger National Park, South Africa, AUG 2016