Long Beach Animal Hospital Informational Articles

Botswana 2017 Guests

A few photos of the peeps in our group doing their thing, some of them courtesy of Hal Gosling. Don’t miss the two videos of Dominic; one singing in a canoe, the other dancing with the locals.

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Dominic singing “Amore”

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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.

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Zebra’s faces have lots of expression

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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

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Evidence of their presence is everywhere

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They destroy trees as they go about their normal routine

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Threat displays are common

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Fighting amongst the males is common

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

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

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Do you see the five birds in this photo?

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The five birds are still present

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Our guide kept a tab on them as they grazed

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

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

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Lion tracks were easy to spot in the soft sand

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Zak taught us about animal tracks

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

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

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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. 

 

 

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