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Mid-day on the Skeleton Coast, this family, part of a 45,000-strong seal colony, was perched on a rocky area near the sea, engaged in heated discussion.
Cape Fur Seals - Arctocephalus pusillus
Cape Cross seal colony, located on the Skeleton Coast in Namibia, is one of Southern Africa’s largest Cape Fur Seal colonies, home to some 80,000-100,000 seals. Cape Fur Seals are the largest of the fur seal species, and can live up to 21 years of age. They are named for their thick pelt, as unlike true seals which have only a thin covering of hair, Cape Fur Seals have a thick layer of short, soft fur, which is protected by a layer of longer, harder hair. The top layer gets wet, while the bottom layer stays dry. The bottom layer, in addition to the fat formation under the skin, provides the seals with excellent insulation against the cold Benguela current of the Atlantic Ocean. Nikon D5 with Nikon VR80-400mm f4.5-5.6G lens with Nikon 1.4 x Teleconverter, effective focal length 550mm, 1/2000 sec @ f14, ISO 2000
Photograph by Trevor Woodburn
This Bass was found maintaining station under a ledge out of the strong current on the north-east undersea ridge on Aliwal Shoal. This individual is territorial and although wild, has had exposure over time to divers and eye’ d me as I slowly approached, the dome of the camera to its eye. The ledge provides protection and also a base for the Goldies and Cleaner wrasse to approach the bass and eat the parasites and algae that might be growing on its skin. Whilst it is very large it doesn’t have teeth like sharks do but rather a large mouth that it sucks food into and then crushes and swallows.
Potato Bass or Grouper - Epinephelus tukula
The Potato Grouper, also called the Potato Cod or Potato Bass, is a native fish to Australia, Indian Ocean and Asian countries. It can reach a length of 2.6m and can weigh as much as 110kg. Mainly found in deep reef channels and seamounts, in current prone areas. Juveniles may be found in tide pools. Feeds on reef fishes, skates, crabs, and spiny lobsters and is considered to be exceedingly territorial and very aggressive towards intruders. Vulnerable to spear fishers but also hand fed by divers in certain areas, although potentially dangerous to the inexperienced. Nikon D300 Nikkor 10.5mm f2.8 Fisheye lens, 1/80th sec @ f11, ISO 200, Sea & Sea Housing and Two Sea & Sea YS250 strobes on ¼ power. Taken on scuba at 20m at Aliwal Shoal, South Africa.
Photograph by Andrew Woodburn
Early evening in the Hoanib region of Namibia, a breeding herd of elephants was moving along a ridge of sandy rocks when a baby elephant decided it was time to play. He slithered down a slope and appeared to challenge the female elephants to try and “catch him if they could”. The females chased after the baby to try and discipline him but were unsuccessful in their chase.
African Elephant - Loxodanta
The African Elephant is a genus comprising two living elephant species, the African Bush Elephant and the smaller African Forest Elephant. Loxodanta is one of two existing genera of the family Elephantidae, the other being Asiatic Elephants. The name refers to the lozenge-shaped enamel of their molar teeth. African Elephants are the world’s largest land animals and can weigh up to 7 tons in weight. Elephants roam across much of sub-Saharan Africa, but face increasing threat from poaching, habitat loss and conflict with humans.Nikon D5 with Nikon VR80 – 400 mm f4.5 – 5.6G lens with Nikon 1.4 x Teleconverter, effective focal length 360mm, 1/800 sec @ f13, ISO 3600
Early morning in the Ngala Private Game Reserve, a concession within the Kruger National Park, this white lion cub was found affectionately rubbing his head against two lionesses.
White Lion - Panthera leo
White lions are not albinos, nor a different species of lion. Their condition is known as ‘leucism’, a rarity where a recessive genetic mutation causes the lion’s coat to vary from near white to blonde, rather than the common tawny. Interestingly, their skin and eyes retain their natural pigment. A cub is born white only if both of its parents carry the recessive gene, as such, there are instances where there will be a mix of classic tawny lion cubs and white cubs born in the same litter. Nikon D5 with Nikkor VR80 – 400mm f4.5 – 5.6G lens with Nikon 1.4 x Teleconverter,effective focal length 112mm, 1/800 sec @ f16, ISO 2200
Early morning in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, this young hyena pup was resting in the warm morning sun but had a keen eye open for potential danger.
Spotted Hyena - Crocuta crocuta
The Spotted Hyena, also known as the laughing hyena due to its giggle-like vocalisations, is native to sub-Saharan Africa and the largest animal in the Hyaenidae family. It has a widespread range, with numbers estimated between 27,000 and 47,000 individuals. The Spotted Hyena is the most social of the large carnivores, it can live in groups consisting of up to 80 individuals and demonstrates complex social behaviours. Nikon D5 with Nikon VR80-400mm f4.5-5.6G lens with Nikon 1.4 x Teleconverter, effective focal length 550mm, 1/800 sec @ f16, ISO 18 000
Early morning in the Damaraland region of Namibia, this Desert Black Rhino was enjoying the rays of sunlight while grazing on the toxic bush found in that area.
Black Rhinoceros - Diceros bicornis
Some of the world’s last remaining black rhinos still roam freely in the barren wilderness of the desert regions in Namibia. The black rhino has a beak like upper lip, pointed and flexible, which it employs as a grasping tool. Horns are extremely variable in size and shape, the front horn is thinner and usually longer than the rear horn. Thanks to persistent conservation efforts across Africa, the total number of black rhinos grew from 2,410 in 1995 to more than 5,000 today. To protect black rhinos from poaching and habitat loss, the WWF is taking action in three Africa rhino range countries namely: Namibia, Kenya and South Africa. Nikon D5 with Nikon VR80-400mm f4.5 – 5.6G lens with 1.4 x Teleconverter,effective focal length 550mm, 1/640 sec @ f13, ISO 1600
Late afternoon in the Skeleton Coast Nature Reserve, Namibia, this African Wildcat, looking remarkably like a domesticated cat, emerged from the bush and slowly approached our vehicle. As it got nearer, it showed its long fangs, leaving us in no doubt that it was, in fact, a wild cat.
African Wildcat - Felis lybica
The diminutive African Wildcat is often overlooked in favour of its more impressive feline cousins. What it lacks in size and strength, it more than makes up for in stealth and success. It is the wild prototype of a tabby cat, distinguished from the domesticated version by longer legs, a more upright seated posture, and reddish earmarked translucent ears. Wildcats live wherever rats and mice thrive.Nikon D5 with Nikkor VR80 – 400mm f4.5 – 5.6G lens with 1.4 x Teleconverter, effective focal length 185mm, 1/640 sec @ f10, ISO 5600
Late afternoon in the Ngala Private Game Reserve, a concession within the Kruger National Park, this family of leopards, comprising the mother and two sub-adult cubs, was enjoying themselves playing on the trunk of a large fallen tree.
Leopard - Panthera pardus
The leopard is one of the five extant species in the genus Panthera, a member of the Felidae. It occurs in a wide range in sub-Saharan Africa, and small parts of Western and East Asia. The leopard’s skin colour varies between individuals from pale yellowish to dark golden with dark spots grouped in rosettes. Its belly is whitish and its ringed tail shorter than its body. The pattern of rosettes is unique in each individual. Leopards are the embodiment of feline beauty, power and stealth, being long and low slung, with short muscular limbs.Nikon D5 with V80 – 400mm f4.5 – 5.6G lens with 1.4 x Teleconverter, effective focal length 165mm, 1/640 sec @ f8, ISO 18 000
The Radiated Tortoise is considered to be one of the world’s most beautiful tortoises. This baby was making its way as best as possible across a river bed of water rounded stones which was a feat to observe as some stones were bigger than it was. I lay down to be at its level and that was punishing enough for me with the stones providing an incredibly uncomfortable base for photography, the tortoise seemed unconcerned and with an exhibition of tortoise tenacity continued its herculean task.
Radiated Tortoise - Astrochelys radiata
Growing to a carapace length of up to 41cm and weighing up to 16kg , the Radiated Tortoise is a species in the family Testudinidae. Although this species is native to and most abundant in southern Madagascar it can also be found in the rest of this island, and has been introduced to the islands of Réunion and Mauritius. It is a very long-lived species, with recorded life spans of at least 188 years. As Radiated Tortoises are herbivores, grazing constitutes 80–90% of their diets, while they also eat fruits and succulent plants. A favorite food in the wild is the Opuntia cactus, commonly known as the prickly pear. These tortoises are classified as critically endangered by the IUCN, mainly because of the destruction of their habitat and poaching. Nikon D70 Nikkor 105mm f2.8 Macro lens, 1/100 sec @ f20, ISO 200. Taken in Madagascar
The group of remoras hitch a ride underneath this ocean-going Manta Ray as it glides in to a coral reef where cleaner fish live and wait to remove the parasites and ocean growth from the manta. They are gentle creatures and will often approach divers in order to satisfy their curiosity. Divers can interact with them near cleaning stations like this one under a set of guidelines. They are so big that when they swim overhead it’s as if a cloud has blocked the sun, they move like a magic carpet in the water with unparalleled grace and speed.
Manta Ray - Manta Birostris
Manta Rays are large rays. The larger species, M. birostris, reaches 7m in width, while the smaller, M. alfredi, reaches 5.5m. Both have triangular pectoral fins, horn-shaped cephalic fins and large, forward-facing mouths. Mantas are found in warm temperate, subtropical and tropical waters. They are filter feeders and eat large quantities of zooplankton, which they gather with their open mouths as they swim. However, research suggests that they are actually deep sea predators, feeding on fish and other organisms that inhabit areas of the sea between 200–1,000m below the surface. They are listed as vulnerable, threats include pollution, entanglement in fishing nets, and direct harvesting for their gill rakers for use in Chinese medicine. They are protected in international waters. Nikon D300 Nikkor 10.5mm f2.8 Fisheye lens, 1/160 sec @ f10, ISO 200, Sea & Sea Housing and Two Sea & Sea YS250, strobes on ¼ power. Taken on scuba at 27m at Amazon dive site off Tofo, Mozambique
This phalanx of storks was getting ready to roost, enjoying the last rays of the African sun in the famous Kruger Park in February. They have migrated south and therefore are not nesting but will forage for frogs, fish, insects, earthworms, small birds and mammals daily before heading north for the European summer. They created this iconic African sunset image, adding their unique silhouettes to the setting summer sun during a sunset game drive.
Yellow-billed Stork - Mycteria ibis
Storks are large, long-legged, long-necked wading birds with long, stout bills. Storks dwell in many regions and tend to live in drier habitats. Storks tend to use soaring, gliding flight, which conserves energy. Storks are heavy, with wide wingspans, and their nests are often very large and may be used for many years. Storks were once thought to be monogamous, but this is only partially true. They may change mates after migrations, and may migrate without a mate. Storks’ size, serial monogamy, and faithfulness to an established nesting site contribute to their prominence in mythology and culture. Nikon D7000, DX format, Sigma 150-500mm f5-6.3 APO DG OS lens @ 500mm, 1/640 sec @ f7.1, ISO 100, -0.3EV. Taken near Olifants Rest Camp, Kruger Park, South Africa.