Friday, April 11, 2008

Coveted Fauna

Other than the BIG 5, visitors to our game reserves are also happy to track down Hippo, Zebra and Giraffe. The ideal location to view hippo at close range is the estuary at St Lucia (one of our UNESCO Heritage Sites in KwaZulu-Natal), where the first two photos of hippo were taken.

When hippo are detected, this is how they usually "reveal" themselves - only their eyes, ears and snouts are visible above the water level.

Sometimes and on what I call a "lucky day" (being at the right place at the right time), hippo are found "on land" - like these two aggressive bulls harassing each other.

Trivia: The other day, my husband "enriched my knowledge" by telling me what he had learned whilst watching a nature-program on TV - hippo aren't related to pigs (which their appearance might imply) and not to horses either( e.g. in German, a hippo is called a "Flusspherd" = River-horse). Instead, they apparently are related to whales!!

I captured the next two photos whilst staying at the Sabi River Sun Hotel (Hazyview, Mpumalanga Prov.) with a group of tourists. I often go walking with them in the afternoon along the golf course (at the hotel) to the river and a dam, where one usually finds hippo.

These images didn't "just happen". Instead they are the result of patiently waiting for the right opportunity. My patience was rewarded when first a male "yawned" (in actual fact it's a show of aggression) -

and then I discovered a female and her youngster "smooching" - one of my favourites in my photo collection.

surely count as the most photogenic wild animals, and I love taking photos of their heads. Here I present: a very special specimen.

Trivia: Every zebra's stripes are unique - like people are "identifiable" by their fingerprints. Oh yes, and do watch out!! Zebra crossing (ha-ha).

Zebra leaning their heads on each other's backs often features amongst wildlife photo-collections. I was happy to snap a "yawning" zebra instead (Hluhluwe Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal).

These two zebra were actually fighting (Etosha, Namibia). Unfortunately, I forgot to activate the "filming" button on my camera whilst this action was taking place, but I did take a series of magnificent photos.

Here's another one of my favourite photos (right) - of a male and female giraffe, in which the surrounding lighting created a special atmosphere.

Trivia: you can recognise which is a male or female by just looking at their heads. A female's "horns" are slimmer and hair visibly sprouts upwards; in contrast, the males horns are thicker and bald on top. [It's true - I'm not having fun at the expense of human males!]

I think this photo (taken in the Pilansberg Game Reserve, N-W Prov.) is a "classic". To me, it looks as if the giraffe are "bunched" together - like 3 flowers in a vase!?

I clearly remember how irritated I was when suddenly, the ranger drove off, because an elephant bull was spotted walking down the road. Instead of chasing after an animal "in the road", I would have preferred to take more photos of this group of giraffe posing so gracefully "in nature"!

Would you be interested in my photos with higher resolution (the original photos)? Please comment (click on comments below).
I'm busy researching if it's viable to create another blog, from which my high resolution photos can be downloaded.

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