Sunday, July 15, 2018

Southern Ground Hornbill

The southern ground hornbill is the largest species of hornbill and one of two species of ground hornbill. It is found from northern South Africa and southern Zimbabwe to Burundi and Kenya, as well as northern Namibia and Angola. 
This picture of a southern ground hornbill is from Wikipedia. 
It is now rated as a vulnerable species by the IUCN

I saw one as we were driving though Hwange NP to where we were staying at The Hide. I asked the guide to stop and it took him a second and we had to back up. He commented that he had not seen one in a long while and that they were rarely seen. Unfortunately, by the time we were able to take pictures he'd moved back from the road and kept going further away. 
Here is my best photo among other even worse photos that I got. 
When we were driving from Hwange NP to the airport in Victoria Falls (still in Hwange), Judy saw another one along the side of the road (which I didn't see). 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Grey-Footed Chacma Baboon

The chacma baboon is one of five species of baboon and the grey-footed chacma is one of three subspecies of the chacma baboon. It is found from northern South Africa to southern Zambia, including the Okavanga Delta in northern Botswana and Hwange NP in western Zimbabwe where we saw them. 
This is my favorite picture. Two big males sitting in a tree in Hwange. I love their red eyes, the whitish football black markings under their eyes and their pyramidal hair.  
This male just has it.
The grey-footed chacma is a little smaller and lighter in color and build than the Cape chacma I just blogged on and it has grey feet. 
This big guy is swaying out among the leaves and limbs of a large tree. 
A good view of the elongated snout. 
A smaller baboon on a large tree trunk.
Red eyes and less extensive white marking under the eyes. 
We really had some fun baboon sightings on this trip. In the Okavanga Delta we found a large troop dispersed among several very large trees with little ones scampering up the side of the trees and out into the limbs and leaves. 
This little guy had no problem going up the side of this large tree. 
It was even better in Hwange NP where we came upon them one evening as they were just getting ready to go into the trees for the night. One particular big male put up with a little one as it crawled around and over him. Another day as we went on our walking safari we saw a group of about 50 or so at the waterhole at The Hide where we were staying. 
These photos are not as good, but I love this grouping with the big male involved in family life. Here he holds a little one in his lap. 
You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. Note that the big one is still involved with the little one. 
Big yawn - dealing with youngsters can be tiring. 
They are very entertaining to watch. 
A nice flash-shot of a baboon bum. 
Part of the troop near the waterhole at The Hide. 

Friday, July 13, 2018

Cape Chacma Baboon

There are five species of baboon. I've previously blogged on the olive baboon we found in Kenya and Tanzania four years ago. On our recent trip, we saw a different species, the chacma baboon and two of its three subspecies. 
Mother Cape chacma baboon with a baby on her back. 
The chacma baboon is one of the largest of all monkeys. It is one of the longest as well as one of the heaviest. It is generally dark brown to gray and has a patch of rough hair on the nape of the neck, instead of a mane (like the olive baboon). Its most distinctive feature is a long, downward-sloping face. 
The three subspecies of chacma are distinguished by size and color. The Cape chacma, one of those subspecies, is large, heavy, dark-brown and has black feet. It is found in southern South Africa. 
We saw a troop of Cape chacma baboons shortly after leaving the area of the Cape of Good Hope. We learned on our drive down to the Cape of Good Hope that there are baboon handlers that follow the baboons and try to keep them out of residential areas. A website for Human Wildlife Solutions says that they follow 11 troops of baboons from Constantia to the Cape of Good Hope and employ 79 baboon handlers. They are able to keep the troops out of town 99.8% of the time. However, as a 2016 National Geographic article notes, "Is This the End For South Africa's Famed Urban Baboons?" the tactic of removing male baboons may doom the troops. 
We saw baboon handlers twice along our drive, walking along the side of the road. The first time we saw no baboons. However, the second time we saw a troop of baboons cross the road right in front of us and walk up the side of a hill. 

I was thrilled, it was a sighting I was hoping for!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Southwest African Lion

The southwest African lion, also known as the Katanga lion (Panthera leo bleyenberghi), was itself a subspecies of the Southern African lion, at least until 2016 when over the course of a couple of years the classifications changed several times. 
Currently, because of recent genetic testing, there are now two subspecies of lion which do not appear to be labeled yet. One subspecies (Panthera leo leo), which includes what used to be labeled the Asian, West Africa, Central African and North African (now extinct) subspecies, are all lumped together under one subspecies. The other subspecies (Panthera leo melanochaita) includes what used to be labeled the Cape lion (now extinct), Southern African and East African (which I've previously blogged on) subspecies, which themselves were broken down into different categories.  
We saw these lions in Etosha National Park in Namibia, near the Gemsbokviakte waterhole. We were alerted to their presence by a number of vehicles lined up viewing one in the grass.
Then we left and came back later and found a different lion about 40 yards away next to the waterhole, then while we watched, the lion from the grass walked over to and joined the lion by the waterhole. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Angolan Giraffe

As mentioned in my prior post, the Angolan giraffe is either a species or subspecies, depending upon the taxonomy you choose. This post is focusing on those Angolan giraffes we saw in Botswana and western Zimbabwe. My prior post was on the giraffes we saw in Namibia which are probably a separate subspecies I referred to as the Namibian giraffe. 

We had some pretty good giraffe sightings in the Okavanga Delta of Botswana, but between the early morning light and the setting I had on my camera, the pictures did not come out well.
A young giraffe.

Patterns on the Angolan giraffe. 
We saw some giraffes in Zambezi National Park from a helicopter, but nothing when we were on the ground.

In Hwange NP we took a walking safari and had the thrill of seeing about 30 giraffes during our walk. Again, the sun was tricky and some of my photos aren't great, but the experience was amazing. 
This young giraffe was one of the first ones we spotted. 
Note that the spots on the center giraffe are much less uniform and smaller than most of my other pictures for the Namibian and and Angolan giraffes. Even compare it to the giraffes to its left and right, particularly to the right. Its markings seem more like those on a Masai giraffe.
This is my favorite of all my giraffe pictures. Note that the markings on all these giraffes are much less abstract than the one above. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Namibian Giraffe

The Namibian giraffe is either a separate species of giraffe or a subspecies of the southern giraffe, depending on which taxonomy you choose to follow. The Namibian giraffe is also known as the Angolan giraffe (the scientific name is G. angolensis). I'm calling this particular giraffe the Namibian as I'm featuring only giraffes we saw in Etosha National Park and a 2009 genetic study suggests that the populations in Etosha and the northern Namib Desert of Namibia form a separate subspecies from the giraffes of southwestern Zambia, Botswana and western Zimbabwe  which are also part of this same species/subspecies. For my purposes, those giraffes I saw in Botswana and Zimbabwe I'm going to identify as the Angolan Giraffe under a separate post. 
This giraffe distribution map from Wikipedia shows the Namibian and Angolan giraffe in red. The Namibian is the population to the west in Namibia and the Angolan is the population to the east, primarily in Botswana and western Zimbabwe. What I find disturbing is how few areas are left in Africa that still have giraffes. 
The first giraffe we saw was the late afternoon we drove into Etosha NP. We drove out to Okondeka waterhole, 31 kilometers north of Okaukuejo. This giraffe was at a waterhole with quite a few vultures feeding on an animal we could not get a good view of and on the edge of the vast pan that much of Etosha consists of. This was the most barren ground we saw in Etosha. 
Note a couple of vultures in the foreground.
Our second day in Etosha we saw some giraffes just east of Okaukuejo, about four in all, spread out among the thorny acacia trees. 
Four are captured in this one photograph. 
I like the juxtaposition next to the thorn tree. 
The following giraffe was seen after we turned on the road south to Halili. 

The white ear patch, this subspecies is known for, is fairly recognizable on this giraffe. 
After we checked into Halili for the night, we took a drive out to the Goas waterhole, northeast of Halili, late that afternoon. We had several good giraffe sightings relatively close to Goas. 

The white ear patch stands out in this picture. It looks like a white line down the neck, just behind the jaw.  It also illustrates that the spotting pattern extends throughout the legs. 
The patterns on this giraffe illustrate the large brown blotches with edges that are either somewhat notched or have angular extensions. 
The white ear patch is visible here as well and note that the spotting pattern does not extend to the upper part of the face. 
Our third day, on the way out of Etosha, we stopped at the Chudop waterhole, just 7 kilometers from Namutoni on the far eastern side of Etosha. There we saw three giraffes, some wildebeest and impala at the waterhole. 
A giraffe backed by wildebeest. 
The underside and legs of this giraffe. 

Monday, July 9, 2018

Lilac Breasted Roller

We saw the lilac breasted roller when we visited Kenya and Tanzania four years ago. On our most recent trip I got photos of one on an isolated road in Etosha National Park in Namibia. 
In Etosha NP. It looks like the wind was mussing up the feathers a bit. 
My best picture was taken in Zambezi National Park, outside Victoria Falls, when we were driving out for our canoe trip. The backdrop was not blue sky, so the variations of color stand out better.
The colors on this one are distinct and crisp.
Finally, in Hwang NP in Zimbabwe we had a day where we were seeing them everywhere (along with yellow-billed hornbills, another of my favorite birds). 
This one captures the colors pretty well. 
This one doesn't capture the colors as well, but does get the forked tail.