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Early morning on the Chobe River, Botswana, this young African Jacana chick wandered around the water lilies looking for something to eat with its very big feet providing support on the large water lily leaves.
African Jacana - Actophilornis africanus
The African Jacana has a distinctive rich chestnut body, white neck, yellow upper breast, black and white head and a blue frontal shield. The female is appreciably larger than males. Juveniles are paler with white body and no frontal shield. They are common residents and local nomads at wetlands with floating vegetation, especially water lilies.
Nikon D500 with Sigma 150-600mm Sport f5.0-6.3 with 1,4 x Teleconverter, effective focal length 850mm, 1/2500 sec @ f11, ISO 5600
Photograph by Trevor Woodburn
This Oceanic Blacktip Shark is resident off the KwaZulu-Natal coast of South Africa and is a regular attendant at the shark feeding and diving venue, Aliwal Shoal, 5km offshore of Scottborough bathing beach. Divers can interact closely with these sharks without the need for a cage provided they comply with behaviour styles so as not to incite the sharks to think they are food. These sharks have grown large as a by-product of the Tiger Shark baiting programme and are often accompanied by remora fish. The bite marks on the gill slits are from mating where the male holds the female during intercourse.
Oceanic Blacktip Shark - Carcharhinus limbatus
This is a common shark which is distributed throughout the coastal tropical and subtropical waters of the world. The species is known to grow to a length of 2m. The shark has a strong streamlined body with a fusiform shape and long pointed snout with relatively small eyes. The gill slits are long and they can have black tips or edges to their pectoral, dorsal, pelvic or caudal fins. They are extremely fast, energetic predators sometimes breaching the surface and swimming erratically when hunting fish.
Nikon D300 Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX, 10mm F16 at 1/60th sec, ISO 200, Sea & Sea Housing and Two Sea & Sea YS250 strobes on ¼ power. Taken on scuba at 10m at Aliwal Shoal, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Photograph by Andrew Woodburn
Very late afternoon in the Okavango Delta, Botswana, this female lechwe enjoyed jumping over rivers in the flood plains and in the process created trails of water droplets as it flew through the air before landing on the opposite bank.
Lechwe - Kobus leche
The lechwe have overdeveloped hindquarters, hooves elongated with wide splay and adjacent naked skins which are aquatic adaptations. The female weighs around 80kg and has a greasy coat with a distinctive small, shaggy neck mane. Their colour varies geographically, chestnut with white underparts, tail, throat and facial markings with conspicuous black markings running down the legs, and black-tipped tail.
Nikon D5 with Nikon 80-400mm f4.5-5.6G lens with 1,4 x Teleconverter, effective focal length 550mm, 1/3200 sec @ f14, ISO 3600
This group of pups was rising from the desert night in summer amongst the dewy wet grass. Tentatively at first, but with increasing confidence, the pups followed the adults from the underground den to join the generations of their mob on the red sandy mound. Many had damp fur and were drying out in the morning sun as they stood collectively huddled for warmth and safety. They played and rolled around at the feet of their parents before the day’s foraging began.
Meerkat - Suricata suricatta
The meerkat is a small carnivoran belonging to the mongoose family (Herpestidae). Meerkats live in all parts of the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, in much of the Namib Desert, and in South Africa. A group of meerkats is called a “mob”, “gang” or “clan”. A meerkat clan often contains about 20 meerkats, but some super- families have 50 or more members. In captivity, meerkats have an average life span of 12 - 14 years, and about half this in the wild. The meerkat is small, weighing on average about 0.5 - 2.5kg. The meerkat uses its tail to balance when standing upright, as well as for signaling. At the end of each of a meerkat’s “fingers” is a claw used for digging burrows and digging for prey. The patterns of stripes are unique to each meerkat. The underside of the meerkat has no markings, but the belly has a patch which is only sparsely covered with hair and shows the black skin underneath. The meerkat uses this area to absorb heat while standing on its rear legs, usually early in the morning after cold desert nights.
Nikon D2Xs, DX format, Sigma 150-500mm f5-6.3 APO DG OS lens @ 222mm, 1/500th sec @ f6.3, ISO 800
Mid-morning on the banks of the Chobe River, Botswana, a flock of Helmeted Guineafowl came down to the river’s edge to drink, creating a delightful reflection of colours as they dipped their beaks into the water.
Helmeted Guineafowl - Numida meleagris
A large, well-known game bird with blue-grey plumage, uniformly spotted with white. Head pattern varies geographically, but generally naked blue and red with check wattles and a pale casque on the crown. Males have a larger casque than females. Often flock in hundreds.
Nikon D5 with Nikon 80- 400mm f4.5- 5.6G lens with 1,4 x Teleconverter, effective focal length 400mm, 1/2500 sec @ f11, ISO 2200
Late afternoon in the Ngala Private Game Reserve, a concession within the Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga, this young leopard was found resting in a tree and looking upward in a very pensive mood.
Leopard - Panthera pardus
Leopards embody feline beauty with stealth, infinite patience and power. A leopard will get to within 5m of its quarry before pouncing, taking it completely by surprise. Tremendously strong, these cats can carry a 70kg impala to a feeding position up a tree.
Nikon D5 with Nikon 80-400mm f4.5-5.6G lens with Nikon 1.4 x Teleconverter, effective focal length 440mm, 1/1600 sec @ f14, ISO 45600
Mid-morning on the Chobe River, Botswana, this elephant waded into the deep section of the river to gain access to young water lilies which he then proceeded to extract with his trunk and, in the process, created a huge spray of water.
Elephant - Loxodonta africana
Elephants are the largest land animal, Africa’s true King of Beasts and weigh up to 6,000kg (male) and 3,500kg (female), with a height of 3.3m (male) and 2.5m (female). The trunk is a muscular extension of the upper lip containing the nostrils, and the tip is equipped with two finger-like projections for handling small objects. Huge ears, up to 1.5m, flap on still, hot days to help cool blood flowing through the network of veins on their back surface. Tusks grow continuously, weighing up to 13kg each and can reach a length of 2.5m.
Nikon D5 with Nikkon 80-400mm f4.5-5.6G lens with Nikon 1.4 x Teleconverter, effective focal length 220mm, 1/4000 sec @ f14, ISO 2800
Late afternoon on the banks of the Chobe River, Botswana, this Savanna Baboon was sitting silently with its head on its hand in a typically human pose. Apparently a baboon has 98% of human DNA which is reflected in much of its behaviour.
Savanna Baboon - Papio cynocephalus
The Savanna Baboon is a big monkey with a dog-like head with powerful build and shoulders higher than its withers, and sturdy limbs. A typical male can weigh between 30 and 45kg. They have close-set eyes below a prominent brow ridge, sizeable nearly hairless ears, a long muzzle and powerful jaws. Baboons are the most widespread African primate, a tramp species found through savanna and arid zones wherever water and secure sleeping places i.e. trees or cliffs occur.
Nikon D5 with Nikon 80-400mm f4.5 – 5.6G lens with 1.4 x Teleconverter, effective focal length 550mm, 1/1000 sec @ f8, ISO 9000
Late morning on the Chobe River, Botswana, this Squacco Heron was foraging among the water lilies when it suddenly took off, displaying the beautiful patterns of its white wings.
Squacco Heron - Ardeola ralloides
A small, buff and white heron, with a heavy, dark-tipped bill. At rest it appears mostly buff and brown with white underparts. In flight, white wings and tail are prominent. Common resident and local nomad along vegetated lakes, pans and slow moving rivers, skulks in long grass and sits motionless for long periods.
Nikon D5 with Nikkon 80-400mm f4.5 – 5.6G lens with 1.4 x Teleconverter, effective focal length 550mm, 1/3200 sec @ f13, ISO 2000
This tiny frog was found quite comfortable inside a yellow flower smaller than the size of my hand in the hedge of the airport while I waited for a plane that never arrived. This was due to the Tsunami that hit Thailand and hence I had plenty of time on my hands to peer into countless flowers looking for insects. The frog was perfectly camouflaged to imitate the colour of the flower, no doubt waiting for some sort of insect to pollenate the flower and become a frog snack. One can get a sense of scale by the drop of water above the frog to the right.
Reed Frog - Heterixalus
A small Heterixalus back is whitish with small black spots. Colour at night yellowish-brown, during the day bright white. A black streak runs from nostril to eye. Heterixalus is a species of frog in the Hyperoliidae family endemic to Madagascar. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests, swamps, freshwater marshes, and intermittent freshwater marshes, arable land, urban areas, heavily degraded former forests, ponds, irrigated land, and seasonally flooded agricultural land which occurs in central eastern Madagascar. Snout vent length 23mm, head width 8mm; eye diameter 3.1mm.
Nikon D70 Nikkor 105mm F2.8 Macro, F20 @ 1/50th sec, ISO 200 Taken by hand in the hedge at Maroantsetra airport in Madagascar.
This turtle was found happily munching away on a sponge growing on an undersea ridge on Aliwal Shoal. The ridge creates strong water flow delivering food which the sponge uses to grow and the turtle seemed to have no problems holding his breath while tearing pieces off the sponge for a meal. One diver was even able to take a selfie next to the turtle whilst he continued his meal. After what seemed an age he lazily headed for the surface for his next breath only to descend and continue where he left off.
Green Turtle - Chelonia mydas
On the Green Turtle there are only four shell plates either side of the central row and these plates do not overlap – the loggerhead has five. Females are usually darker than males, the shell appearing almost tie-dyed in rich browns and ochres. The forelimbs have a single claw each and the bill is not hooked. Green Turtles are resident in southern Africa however, they do not nest on our shores. The nearest breeding grounds are on the islands of Europa and Tromelin in the Mozambique Channel. The females lay only 600 eggs each season in batches of 150 every 12 days. Adults feed almost exclusively on algae and marine plants often entering estuaries to do so. Green Turtles are under threat from hunting and egg collection. Nikon D300 Nikkor 10.5mm F2.8 Fisheye, F10 @ 1/50th sec, ISO 200, Sea & Sea Housing and Two Sea & Sea YS250 strobes on ¼ power. Taken on scuba at 10m at Aliwal Shoal, South Africa.
Late afternoon in the Okavango Delta, this female cheetah and her two cubs were found moving through thick bush that was covered in beautiful small blue flowers.
Cheetah - Acinonyx jubatus
A cheetah is a cat with a greyhound chassis. It is built for speed, is light boned, swaybacked with long thin legs and a short neck. Cheetah are tawny in colour with small, solid black spots; white underparts, outer tail ringed black and white, black ear backs, lips, nose and distinctive “tear stains”. Cheetahs are specialised predators on the fleetest of plains antelopes.
Nikon D5 with 80-400mm f4.5 – 5.6G lens with 1.4 x Teleconverter, effective focal length 550mm, 1/1000 sec @ f11, ISO 720
This stingray was found free-swimming across the reef surface in deep water and its natural curiosity brought it over to my camera. It was quite calm and resembled a magic carpet as it gracefully glided in towards me with undulations of its disk. They are gentle creatures and will often approach divers in order to satisfy their curiosity. The eye is quite visible in the photo as it gives me the once over, investigating this strange scuba creature blowing bubbles and certainly not exhibiting the grace of a creature perfectly designed for life in the ocean.
Smalleye Stingray - Megatrygon microps
TThe Smalleye Stingray measures up to 2.2m across. Rare but widely distributed, it is found in the Indo-Pacific from Mozambique to India, and to northern Australia. This species may be semi-pelagic in nature, inhabiting both deeper waters and shallow coastal reefs and estuaries. It is characterised by a diamond-shaped pectoral fin disc much wider than long, a tail that is broad and flattened in front of the spine but whip-like behind, and large white spots over its back. The very wide shape of the Smalleye Stingray differs from that of most other members of its family, and may reflect a mode of swimming from bottom dwelling to mid water journeys.
Nikon D300 Nikkor 10.5mm f2.8 Fisheye lens, 1/50 sec @ f10, ISO 200, Sea & Sea Housing and Two Sea & Sea YS250 strobes on ¼ power. Taken on scuba at 25m off Tofo, Mozambique
Very early morning in the Ngorogoro Crater, Tanzania, a flock of East African crowned cranes flew past. The straw-yellow crowned feathers were neatly blown back by the wind creating an unusual perspective.
TEast African Crowned Crane / Grey – Crowned Crane - Balearica regulorum
TThe East African Crowned Crane is a slate grey colour with an elongated neck and body. The primary and secondary feathers are dark grey with chestnut markings. The cheek patches are bare, with white at the bottom and a small red patch on top. A distinctive crane with long golden crown feathers.
Nikon D5 with Nikon VR 80-400mm, f4.5 – f5.6 G ED lens with Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III 1.4x effective focal length 320 mm, 1/1600 sec @ f11, ISO 400
Photograph by Trevor Woodburn
Late afternoon in the Grumeti region of the Serengeti National Park, this Lioness was found moving her cubs from their den to a new more secure one situated within a thick clump of bushes.
Lion - Panthera leo
Call of the African Wild, King of African Carnivores. Lionesses are low slung but large and powerful, weighing around 125kg. When prey is plentiful, Lions spend 20 hours out of 24 conserving energy, becoming active in late afternoon; hunt most actively early and late at night and for a couple of hours after daybreak. Lions can become active at any time, day or night, hungry or gorged, so that when easy opportunities to catch prey present themselves, they react immediately and take advantage. Lions kill and often eat all other carnivores, including Leopards and Cheetahs, but rarely Hyenas. Lion cubs tend to be woolly with greyish, spotted coats when born, changing to an adult coat by three months of age.
Nikon D5 with Nikon VR 80-400mm, f4.5 – 5.6 G ED lens with Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III 1.4x, effective focal length 550 mm, 1/1250 sec @ f14, ISO 2800
Early evening on Mnemba Island, Zanzibar, this baby turtle hatchling successfully managed to emerge from the sand nest amongst over one hundred other siblings to navigate its way down to the beach to finally reach the sea, despite toppling over several times.
Green Sea Turtle - Chelonia mydas
The green turtle is a large, weighty sea turtle with a wide, smooth carapace, or shell. It is named not for the colour of its shell, which is normally brown or olive depending on its habitat, but for the greenish colour of its skin. Green turtles, like other sea turtles, undertake lengthy migrations from feeding sites to nesting grounds. To nest, females leave the sea and choose an area, often on the same beach used by their mothers, to lay their eggs. They dig a pit in the sand with their flippers, fill it with a clutch of 100 to 200 eggs, cover the pit and return to the sea, leaving the eggs to hatch after about two months. The most dangerous time of a green turtle’s life is when it makes the journey from nest to sea. Multiple predators, including crabs and flocks of gulls, voraciously prey on hatchlings during this short scamper.
Nikon D4S with AF Nikon 24 – 120mm, 1.4 G ED lens at 120mm 1/320 sec @ f6.3, +0.3 EV, ISO 10000
Very early morning in the Ngorogoro Crater, as the dawn broke, a ray of light reflected off the wings and bodies of a large number of beautiful pink Lesser Flamingos.
Lesser Flamingo - Phoeniconaias minor
The Lesser Flamingo has a white and crimson plumage with a dark red bill and long stilt-like legs. These beautiful birds are common and make a distinctive “honk-honk” sound. They live nomadic lives across shallow freshwater lakes, salt pans and estuaries.
Nikon D5 with Nikon VR 80-400mm, f4.5 – 5.6 G ED lens with Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III 1.4x, effective focal length 550 mm, 1/2000 sec @ f13, ISO 2200
Mid-afternoon on a river bank in the Grumeti region of the Serengeti National Park, this magnificent Nile Crocodile was found displaying its large powerful body and ferocious teeth while at the same time showing off its exquisite and beautiful scales on its body and legs.
Nile Crocodile - Crocodylus niloticus
The Nile Crocodile is common in many parts of Africa. Like all crocodiles, the Nile Crocodile is a quadruped with four short, splayed legs, a long, powerful tail, a scaly hide with rows of ossified scutes running down its back and tail, and powerful jaws. The nostrils, eyes, ears are situated on the top of the head, so the rest of the body can remain concealed underwater. The Nile Crocodile is the largest crocodilian in Africa, the male crocodile usually measures 3.5 to 5m long, but very old mature ones can grow to 5.5m or more. Typical Nile Crocodile weight is from 225 to 500kg, though large males can range up to 750kg in mass. Their mouths are filled with a total of 64 to 68 cone-shaped teeth.
Nikon D500 with Sigma 150-600mm, f5 – 6.3 DG lens with Sigma Teleconverter 1.4x TC – 1401 for Nikon, effective focal length 700 mm, 1/3200 sec @ f11, ISO 22800