LBAH Informational Articles

The Active Zebra of the Okavango Delta

The zebra in this part of Africa are called the Common Zebra, also known as the Burchell’s Zebra. These are the same ones you see throughout East Africa. The other species of zebra I have seen on prior trips are the Grevy’s Zebra in northern Kenya.

Etosha-national-park-zebra

Zebra’s faces have lots of expression

Zebra-butt-Okavango-Botswana

Zebra have this uncanny ability to turn their butts to you as soon as you pull out the camera. Be prepared to get a lot of these shots as you are learning how to quickly photograph their faces

Zebra-Livingstone-Hotel-Zambia2

Zebra are plentiful, and frequent locations that might surprise you. This is at the Livingstone hotel in Zambia, on our way to the Devil’s Pool. 

Zebra-males-fighting-Botswana-Moremi-14

My wish to see a little bit of zebra action came true when we encountered these males

Zebra stallions are aggressive and domineering animals that want to have a harem. They will fight other male zebras for this opportunity.  Even though I have never seen this, some of these fights lead to serious injury and death.  This aggressiveness is one of the reasons this “horse” has never been tamed.

The following male stallions decided to test each other’s strength and assert their dominance. Following are just a few of the photos I have, that took place as they sparred with each other. As the sequence goes on I concentrate more on their faces.

Zebra-males-fighting-Botswana-Moremi-25

When we first came upon the herd of males and females we saw these two males like this, thinking they were being nice towards each other. Not quite, as you will see from the following sequence of photos.

Zebra-males-fighting-Botswana-Moremi-11

Zebra-males-fighting-Botswana-Moremi-8

Zebra-males-fighting-Botswana-Moremi-7

Zebra-males-fighting-Botswana-Moremi-12

Zebra-males-fighting-Botswana-Moremi-5

Zebra-males-fighting-Botswana-Moremi-19

Zebra-males-fighting-Botswana-Moremi-22
Zebra-males-fighting-Botswana-Moremi-6
Zebra-males-fighting-Botswana-Moremi-9

Zebra-males-fighting-Botswana-Moremi-10

Zebra-males-fighting-Botswana-Moremi-16

Zebra-males-fighting-Botswana-Moremi-17

Zebra-males-fighting-Botswana-Moremi-18

Zebra-males-fighting-Botswana-Moremi-15
Zebra-males-fighting-Botswana-Moremi-20

Zebra-males-fighting-Botswana-Moremi-21

Return to Botswana page

Continue Reading

Elephants of the Okavango Delta

The waterways of the Okavango Delta attract large numbers of elephants for obvious reasons. You will frequently see them on land, on the islands, at the water’s edge, and in the water. We saw them from our vehicle and our boat, and we even walked amongst them. If you are an elephant fan like us, you will be in heaven.

Elephant-Camp-Okavango-Botswana-12

Evidence of their presence is everywhere

Elephant-Camp-Okavango-Botswana-31

They destroy trees as they go about their normal routine

Elephant-Camp-Okavango-Botswana-30

Walking amounts them was one of the more thrilling ways to see them. This one was not happy with our presence, and our guide made us lay low for a few minutes, then carefully circle past him, giving him wide berth.

As we drove around the Moremi Game Reserve we encountered elephants frequently. They were usually in large herds, with many youngsters of varying age. The herd was led by a female elephant who had substantial wisdom on finding food and water.

Elephant-Camp-Okavango-Botswana-5

Elephant-Camp-Okavango-Botswana-17

Elephant-Camp-Okavango-Botswana-18

Elephant-Camp-Okavango-Botswana-28

Elephant herd crossing a stream

This young male is in musth, as evidenced by the fluid draining from his ear behind his left eye. This is the equivalent of being in heat in the elephant world. When males are in this state they are more aggressive. This male showed his irritation with our presence by shaking his head and ears, and then trumpeting loudly. Our guide knew he was just showing off, and after a few seconds of this, he went back to eating.

Elephant-Camp-Okavango-Botswana-7

Elephant-Camp-Okavango-Botswana-8

Elephant-Camp-Okavango-Botswana-10

Elephant-Camp-Okavango-Botswana-6

It talks a lot of munching to fill up this stomach

We saw many elephant on the islands and the waterways of the Okavango Delta. They were quite peaceful, and we were able to get amazingly close in our boats. The high speed boats let us cover a substantial part of the waterways near our camp, yet we still only saw a small fraction of the Delta.

Elephant-Camp-Okavango-Botswana-25

Elephant-Camp-Okavango-Botswana-27

Elephant-Camp-Okavango-Botswana

Elephant-Camp-Okavango-Botswana-16

Elephant-Camp-Okavango-Botswana-26

Elephant-Camp-Okavango-Botswana-29

Elephant-Camp-Okavango-Botswana-13

Elephant-Camp-Okavango-Botswana-14

Elephant-Camp-Okavango-Botswana-20

Elephant-Camp-Okavango-Botswana-21

Elephant-Camp-Okavango-Botswana-22

Elephant-Camp-Okavango-Botswana-11

Elephant-Camp-Okavango-Botswana-24
Return to Botswana page

Continue Reading

Hippopotamus of the Okavango Delta

They look so cute and adorable, especially when they are cuddling in the water. Don’t be fooled by their “three stooges” look, they are quite dangerous as most people know. They are responsible for more human fatalities in Africa than any other larger mammal.

You don’t want to get between them and their escape route, a bull’s territory, or females with their young. From the stories I heard from guides and other guests, the biggest danger is when you are canoeing in the water and don’t see them, when all of a sudden one emerges near or under your canoe. The hippo panics and attacks the canoe, usually tipping it over, and possibly biting the occupants.

hippo-Okavango-Botswana-3

They are rarely alone, unless it is a male that has been pushed out of the group by the dominant bull

hippo-Okavango-Botswana-2

Threat displays are common

hippo-Okavango-Botswana

Fighting amongst the males is common

hippo-Okavango-Botswana-6

hippo-Okavango-Botswana-11

They have a smirk on their faces, and sometimes remind me of the three stooges

hippo-Okavango-Botswana-9

Their skin is sensitive and will burn if they are out of the water for too long

hippo-Okavango-Botswana-12

Do you see the five birds in this photo?

hippo-Okavango-Botswana-13

The five birds are still present

hippo-Okavango-Botswana-14

 Return to Botswana page

Continue Reading

Cape Buffalo of the Okavango Delta

Cape Buffalo (some people mistakenly call them water buffalo) are know by two other names; African Buffalo, and Black Death. The Black Death comes from their propensity to consciously charge hunters after they have been wounded in an attempt (successfully sometimes) to kill the hunter.

We took the powerboats to an island for a walking tour with our guide. We encountered a herd of Cape Buffalo at our landing site, and had to wait from them to pass. This gave us an opportunity to photograph them up close, while they were calm (although inquisitive about us based on their stares), and from the safety of our boats.  Once they moved away we walked around the island. Africa is a whole different place when you walk around with an experienced guide that points out the the details of this complicated ecosystem you miss when riding in a vehicle.

Cape-Buffalo-Okavango-Botswana-2

We could see them in the distance as we neared our landing spot

Cape-Buffalo-Okavango-Botswana-10

The large bulls kept an eye on us as the herd grazed unworried

Cape-Buffalo-Okavango-Botswana-11

As we got closer, they came to the water’s edge

Cape-Buffalo-Okavango-Botswana-3

As they slowly walked past they would stop their grazing and stare at us

Cape-Buffalo-Okavango-Botswana-4

Cape-Buffalo-Okavango-Botswana-6

Cape-Buffalo-Okavango-Botswana-14

Cape-Buffalo-Okavango-Botswana-13

Cape-Buffalo-Okavango-Botswana-7

The large bulls came up to the waters edge to look at us

Cape-Buffalo-Okavango-Botswana-8

Cape-Buffalo-Okavango-Botswana-9

Cape-Buffalo-Okavango-Botswana-27

We waited until they moved on and then disembarked on to the land for our tour with Zak

Cape-Buffalo-Okavango-Botswana-18

Our guide kept a tab on them as they grazed

Cape-Buffalo-Okavango-Botswana-19

Cape-Buffalo-Okavango-Botswana-20

After one final check with the binoculars we moved on for our walking tour

Cape-Buffalo-Okavango-Botswana-26-3

Our first observation was a large den, probably from an aardvark

Cape-Buffalo-Okavango-Botswana-23

Lion tracks were easy to spot in the soft sand

Cape-Buffalo-Okavango-Botswana-26-2

Zak taught us about animal tracks

Cape-Buffalo-Okavango-Botswana-25

From the elephant tracks were learned how to tell which foot we were looking at, and the size and age of the elephant

Cape-Buffalo-Okavango-Botswana-21

Do you see the lion track in the center of this elephant track

Cape-Buffalo-Okavango-Botswana-22

This view makes it easier to visualize

As we continued walking Zak heard the alarm call of a bird, and said that it was a reptile alarm call. I though he was pulling our leg. He said that in this area it was either a lizard or a snake. I remained skeptical, even when we saw the skid marks of a reasonably large snake in the area. My skepticism rapidly vanished when another guide in our group called us over to him just 50 yards away. They were looking at a Black Mamba snake in a tree.

Click here to go to my Black Mamba page. I never dreamed I would be standing this close to such a dangerous animal. I have only seen one once, and it was in Kenya when I was on an Earthwatch project monitoring the lions in Tsavo National Park. I will show that old photo, along with the new ones, when you follow the link. 

 

 

Continue Reading

There are Lions on the Airstrip

Our guides drove us to the airstrip at Camp Moremi to see some male lions. Sure enough, when we got there we saw two lazy male lions enjoying their peace and quiet (which would soon be interrupted).

One male was sitting under the fire buckets, while the other was at the passenger loading area. Neither had a care in the world, that is until an airplane with passengers landed. The bush pilot saw our vehicles near the airstrip, so he knew something was up, and was not caught by surprise when he landed and taxied to the passenger loading area.

These bush pilots are professional and experienced, and know what to do in this situation. Once the airplane is on the ground the lions usually move away due to the noise. If they don’t move far enough away for passenger safety, the pilot will rev up his engine and the blast from the prop will move the lions further. This pilot did this, and once the lions were at a reasonable distance, all of our guides moved our vehicles in a line between the lions and embarking/departing passengers. It was quite entertaining, and the passengers on the airplane now have a story to tell the folks back home.

Lion-male-airstrip-Botswana-2

The two sleeping lions who are about to be rudely awakened

Lion-male-airstrip-Botswana-3

This guy did not have a care in the world, and was enjoying his siesta in the sun

Lion-male-airstrip-Botswana

The other one slept in the shade

Lion-male-airstrip-Botswana-12

When the pilot saw all of our vehicles he knew something was up

Lion-male-airstrip-Botswana-13

He could see the lions as soon as he landed

Lion-male-airstrip-Botswana-4

The male closest to the airplane heard the airplane land and was instantly alert

Lion-male-airstrip-Botswana-5

He decided it might be a good time to move, and sauntered right past our vehicle.

Lion-male-airstrip-Botswana-6

He was in no rush, and took his sweet old time

Lion-male-airstrip-Botswana-7

He has a beautiful mane

Lion-male-airstrip-Botswana-8

He walked past his buddy who was now also awake from his nap

Lion-male-airstrip-Botswana-9

The first male decided to stop by one of our vehicles and stare at its occupants. We were not blocking his path, so it is hard to known why he stopped. 

Lion-male-airstrip-Botswana-10

For some reason he was not too keen on them, as you can see from his body language. He could hear the airplane getting closer, so he kept on moving.

Lion-male-airstrip-Botswana-14

The pilot taxied towards this lion (the other lion had already moved into the bushes on the right) to keep him moving away from the passenger loading area

Lion-male-airstrip-Botswana-16

The nose of the revving engine kept the lion moving

Lion-male-airstrip-Botswana-17

The lion was still too close for the pilot’s peace of mind…

Lion-male-airstrip-Botswana-19

so he kept coming towards the lion

Lion-male-airstrip-Botswana-20

The pilot was still not happy, so he turned the airplane away and revved the engine

Lion-male-airstrip-Botswana-22

This procedure worked, and both lions moved far enough away for the pilot to feel comfortable enough to unload his passengers

Lion-male-airstrip-Botswana-23

Our guides moved our vehicles forward between the lions and the airplane to help the pilot

Lion-male-airstrip-Botswana-28

With the lions at a safe distance, and our vehicles blocking the lion, the passengers unloaded and loaded

Lion-male-airstrip-Botswana-24

The airplane uneventfully left  the loading area with new passengers

Lion-male-airstrip-Botswana-26

It took off successfully

Lion-male-airstrip-Botswana-25

Our friends went back to relaxing


Lion-male-airstrip-Botswana-27

We had a bunch of happy campers (and guides) this day!

Return to Botswana page

Continue Reading