Botswana : Photos

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Little Bee-eater (Merops pusillus)

Ian N. White posted a photo:

Little Bee-eater  (Merops pusillus)




African Wild Dog Shortly After Dawn at the Okavango Delta, Botswana

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During the South African portion of our trip we were very hopeful of seeing African Wild Dogs, but never got even a glimpse and we were again disappointed in Chobe National Park in Botswana. By the last couple of days in the Okavango Delta, we had given up all hope of seeing them and then, out of nowhere, and without any warning, a family of four dogs (an adult male (seen here) and female plus a sub-adult male and a younger pup) came out of heavy shrubbery no more than 30 yards (meter) from our vehicle. Unfortunately the miracle never repeated itself with cheetahs. The group spotted some antelopes in the distance. The group spotted some antelopes in the distance and each member froze and fixed their eyes on them for a few seconds before they took up the chase. We followed and every so often the dogs stopped and looked around. They seemed to be in no hurry. This time our vehicle stopped close to the alpha male and I had this close-up as checked his six.
According to Wikipedia, the African Wild Dog, also known as African Hunting Dog, African Painted Dog, Painted Hunting Dog or Painted Wolf, is a canid native to Sub-Saharan Africa. It is the largest of its family in Africa, and the only living member of the genus Lycaon, which is distinguished from Canis by its fewer toes and its dentition, which is highly specialized for a hyper carnivorous diet. It is classified as endangered by the IUCN, as it has disappeared from much of its original range. The current population has been estimated at roughly 39 subpopulations containing 6,600 adults, only 1,400 of which are fully grown. The decline of these populations is ongoing, due to habitat fragmentation, human persecution, and disease outbreaks. The African wild dog is a highly social animal, living in packs with separate dominance hierarchies for males and females. Uniquely among social carnivores, it is the females rather than the males that scatter from the natal pack once sexually mature, and the young are allowed to feed first on carcasses. The species is a specialized daytime hunter of antelopes, which it catches by chasing them to exhaustion. Like other canids, it regurgitates food for its young, but this action is also extended to adults, to the point of being the bedrock of African Wild Dog social life. It has few natural predators, though lions are a major source of mortality, and spotted hyenas are frequent kleptoparasites.

African Wild Dog Shortly After Dawn at the Okavango Delta, Botswana




Young Male Lion Sniffing the Air at the Okavango Delta, Botswana

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We went out on our morning game drive looking for signs of the male lions we had heard roaring near our camp the night before. Suddenly the vehicle radio came alive with the news that lion tracks had been spotted by the tracker on another vehicle and the hunt was on. A few minutes later, after having stopped on the way to shoot a few hippos, we came upon a group of five young male adult lions, probably brothers. This one and three others were laying in the shade of a tall tree and one was sunning himself in the nearby grass. This one, however, was the only one showing any signs of being awake. Suddenly, he raised his head and started to sniff the air. He must not have smelled anything interesting because just game me enough time for this one shot. As you can deduce from the EXIF, we were almost on top of them. I had my zoom at 200mm and still filled the image with just his head and shoulders.

Young Male Lion Sniffing the Air at the Okavango Delta, Botswana




Lilac-Breasted Roller in Profile (Left) at the Okavango Delta, Botswana

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It was remarkable that in southern Africa the most beautiful birds also seemed to be the most common. These Lilac Breasted Rollers and the Southern Carmine Bee-Eaters (another incredibly beautiful bird) seemed to be everywhere we looked. As a result, I ended up with a couple of hundred frames of each. I can only keep a few and so it is difficult to discard so many semi-duplicate shots which only a couple of weeks earlier I could have only dreamt about.
According to Wikipedia, the Lilac-Breasted Roller is an African member of the roller family of birds. It is widely distributed in sub-Saharan Africa and the southern Arabian Peninsula, preferring open woodland and savanna; it is largely absent from treeless places. Usually found alone or in pairs, it perches conspicuously at the tops of trees, poles or other high vantage points from where it can spot insects, lizards, scorpions, snails, small birds and rodents moving about at ground level. Nesting takes place in a natural hole in a tree where a clutch of 2–4 eggs is laid, and incubated by both parents, who are extremely aggressive in defense of their nest, taking on raptors and other birds. During the breeding season the male will rise to great heights, descending in swoops and dives, while uttering harsh, discordant cries. The sexes are alike in coloration. Juveniles do not have the long tail feathers that adults do. This species is unofficially considered the national bird of Kenya.

Lilac-Breasted Roller in Profile (Left) at the Okavango Delta, Botswana




Greater Kudu Female Outside our Tent in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

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It was our last morning at Little Vumbura Camp, a concession run by Wilderness Safaris, in the Okavango Delta of Botswana. In a couple of hours we would be in the air on the milk run back to Johannesburg and then home. We stepped out of our tent to go to breakfast and found two Greater Kudu females having their breakfast in the shrubs adjacent to our path. I shot several frames and then we all went on our separate ways to the rest of our day. This was the only keeper.
According to Wikipedia, the Greater Kudu is a woodland antelope found throughout eastern and southern Africa. Despite occupying such widespread territory, they are sparsely populated in most areas, due to a declining habitat, deforestation and poaching. The Greater Kudu is one of two species commonly known as Kudu, the other being the Lesser Kudu. Greater Kudus have a narrow body with long legs, and their coats can range from brown/bluish grey to reddish brown. They possess between 4 and 12 vertical white stripes along their torso. The head tends to be darker in color than the rest of the body, and exhibits a small white chevron which runs between the eyes. Greater Kudu bulls tend to be much larger than the cows, and vocalize much more, utilizing low grunts, clucks, humming, and gasping. The bulls also have large manes running along their throats, and large horns with two and a half twists, which, were they to be straightened, would reach an average length of 47 inches (120cm), with the record being 73.87 inches (187.64cm). They diverge slightly as they slant back from the head. The horns do not begin to grow until the bull is between the ages of 6 and 12 months, twisting once at around 2 years of age, and not reaching the full two and a half twists until they are 6 years old; occasionally they may even have 3 full turns. This is one of the largest species of antelope. Bulls weigh between 420 and 600 lbs. (190–270kg), with a maximum of 604 lbs. (315kg), and stand up to 63 inches (160cm) tall at the shoulder. The ears of the greater Kudu are large and round. Cows weigh Between 260 and 460 lbs. (120–210kg) and stand as little as 39 inches (100cm) tall at the shoulder; they are hornless, without a beard or nose markings. The head-and-body length is between 6.07 and 8.04 feet (185–245cm), to which the tail may add a further 12 to 22 inches (30–55cm).

Greater Kudu Female Outside our Tent in the Okavango Delta, Botswana




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