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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
Early morning in the Sabie Sands Game Reserve, this Tawny Eagle was resting on a branch when it suddenly took off and was clearly on the lookout for a potential meal.
Tawny Eagle -Aquila rapax
The Tawny Eagle is a large bird of prey, capable of reaching 16 years of age. It breeds in most of Africa, both north and south of the Sahara Desert and across tropical southwestern Asia to India. There is a huge variation in their plumage colour, ranging from blonde to tawny brown. They are versatile raptors, eating anything from dead elephants to termites. Like all eagles, it belongs to the family, Accipitridae.
Nikon D5 with Nikon VR80-400mm f4.5 – 5.6G lens with Nikon 1.4 x Teleconverter, effective focal length 550mm, 1/1000 sec @ f9, ISO 3200
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.
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.