Monday, 9 October 2017

Part 5 of our African holiday - Botswana

The day following our visit to the Victoria Falls, we planned a visit to Chobe National Park, which is close to where we were staying. We had so enjoyed our evening trip on the Chobe river with knowledgeable guide Kaiser, that we arranged for him to take us on a tour of the Park. Chobe National Park is in northern Botswana near the vast, inland and spectacular Okavango Delta - we still have to get to that :-)! The park  has one of the largest concentrations of game in Africa. Apologies for the long post, but I did not want to split the viewing of one day into two!
Here is Kaiser collecting us from our hotel. Candy from the hotel on the left making sure all is in order, with Christelle, Nigel and myself.

A few interesting details about the park. It is one third the size of Belgium!

A baby elephant, closely minded by Mum; you can see her just behind on the right.


An obviously young elephant, with characteristically small tusks. (Loxodonta africana). 

The magnificent African fish eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer). 
It has the most amazing, haunting, spine-tingling call, which you can hear at this link


Banded Mongoose (Mungos mungo)
Banded mongooses are sociable creatures and are found in troops of up to fifty individuals. The sizes of their territories or home ranges depend greatly on the availability of food and the conditions of the area. The food of these animals includes a diversity of creatures such as insects, small reptiles such as lizards, amphibians and birds and their eggs. They also take small rodents and scavenge at times.

Blacksmith lapwing, which used to be called a blacksmith plover, but has fairly recently been renamed!  (Vanellus armatus).

African (also known as a Cape) buffalo (Syncerus caffer) with cattle egrets (Bubulcus ibis); they are a species of heron. The cattle egret removes ticks and flies from cattle and wild animals.  Good for the animals and food for the birds, a win-win arrangement!

A closer view of a buffalo. They can be quite dangerous, so a telephoto lens is essential!  Possibly a male as it appears to have quite a large "boss", which is the heavy part in the centre of the horns.

Southern carmine bee eater (Merops nubicoides)  with striking and very distinctive pinkish-red plumage. They often nest in earth banks.


There were many flame lilies around in the park (Gloriosa superba). It is the national flower of Zimbabwe.



Giraffe (giraffe camelopardalis). In open areas of the countryside, they are visible from a long way off, but surprisingly well camouflaged in areas of denser vegetation as above. Being the tallest animal in the world must have pros and cons as mentioned in Part 2!

Hamerkop (Scopus umbretta).  Hamerkop means "hammer head" in Afrikaans, so it is quite obvious where the name comes from! They build massive, unmistakable, nests in  trees, mainly from sticks. A fairly nondescript brown bird, but it has a number of superstitions attached to it.  It is also known as the  Lightning Bird for the belief, in some cultures, that people who tamper with its nest will be struck by lightning!  Some African people believe that if a hamerkop flies over your home, the abode has to be burnt down or bad luck will follow.  The hamerkop feeds predominantly on tadpoles and adult frogs, fish and some insects.  Beware if you have a goldfish pond at your home, as my mother found out - the hamerkop appears to love goldfish as well!!

Hippo (Hippopotamus amphibius) are semi-aquatic and found by rivers, floodplains and swamps. The deep grunting of hippos is one of Africa's characteristic sounds. Although they are grazers, hippos are blessed with massive teeth that are used in territorial fights and displays. They are renowned for their aggressive, territorial nature and they are one of Africa’s most dangerous animals! As described in part 3.

 Helmeted guineafowl (Numida meleagris).  Insect and seed-eating, ground-nesting birds .

Greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsciseros) females.  Sadly, we did not see any males; they are very beautiful with their long spiral horns.  Kudu live mainly in thick vegetation and are not easy to see.  They are browsers, but will eat grass, berries and pods if the need arises.

Lilac-breasted roller (Coracias caudatus).  It is a spectacularly coloured bird, with a lilac throat and breast and blue belly. It has long, straight outer tail streamers.  For nesting, they use natural tree cavities and large woodpecker holes. Their food consists of a variety of locusts, grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, butterflies and lizards.

The Chobe River area is one of the few areas in Botswana where the puku antelope is found. (Kobus vardonii) Shoulder height 80cm. Weight 60–75kg. Easily confused with the lechwe at a glance, the puku has an orange-red colour overall, which is lighter underneath than above. However, puku are found all over east and central Africa, and are one of the most common antelopes in Zambia. Typically, they inhabit open areas near rivers and marshes, though in Zambia are found in a wide variety of habitats.  Thanks to Kaiser who identified the antelope for us.

Marabou stork (Leptoptilos crumenifer).  Not the most attractive of birds(!), it is sometimes called the "undertaker bird" due to its shape from behind: cloak-like wings and back above skinny white legs.  Deceptively large, it has a wingspan of up to 3.7 m (12 feet!).  It eats mainly carrion, scraps and faeces, but will eat almost any animal matter if it can swallow it!

Ground squirrel (Xerus inauris) Shoulder height 20–30cm. Weight 400–700g.
This terrestrial rodent is common in the more arid parts of Botswana, including the central Kalahari, and southeastern areas.

 Southern red-billed hornbill (Tockus rufirostris). The female protects her young against intruders by building a mud wall across the opening of her nest. She then seals herself in and brings up her chicks in a 'prison'.  Presumably this is a male bringing food to its family, passing the tasty morsel through a small crack in the mud screen.

 Wahlberg's striped skink (Trachylepis striata wahlbergi) .  They grow up to 25 cms  (9.8 ins) in length.

Fork-tailed drongo (Dicrurus adsimilis).  A very common, easily identified bird in southern Africa; it mainly lives on small insects.

This was a very patient bird; as you can see, as it allowed me to get quite close!



Also see my daily diary HERE



and My Life Before Charente (updated  25 September 2016) I will get back to this eventually! 

30 comments:

  1. Beautiful photos of Africa's awesome wildlife.

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    1. I agree Africa's wildlife is awesome and such a pleasure to see. I cannot believe that anyone would want to shoot these animals for any reason :-( Have a good day Diane

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    2. Yes it is very sad. I've heard that several African animals are in danger due to illegal killing.

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    3. A number of animals are endangered my favourite being the wild dogs :-( Diane

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  2. Diane, you saw all these beautiful animals in your holiday! I am a little jealous! I love the pretty elephants, the giraffe and all the birds. The buffalos and the hippos are magnificent. Kisses, my friend.

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    1. Thanks Mia it was an amazing holiday, we loved every minute of it. Thanks for the comment, take care Diane

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  3. Wow Diane, an amazing variety of birds and animals, some I have never seen before. A exciting post, thank you :)

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    1. Thanks Denise, Africa has some great animals and birds that you will not see elsewhere. A great place to visit. Take care Diane

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  4. Hi Diane – gorgeous photos … love the Fish Eagle – wonderful cry … and I’ve never seen Banded Mongoose: a treat here … magnificent buffalo … bee eater, rollers, guinea fowl … so pretty … I don’t think I’ve ever seen a hamerkop – so that photo is special (thank you!) … also the Marabou storm … I don’t think I’ve seen him before … gosh the hornbill is intent on its work … and the Wahlberg’s skink … and the drongo.

    Reminds me somewhat of my drive through the Savuti, camping there and in Chobe … hardly seeing the elephants as they emerge from the undergrowth … incredible for such creatures, while the giraffe – always amaze.

    Wonderful photos and descriptions to go with them – cheers Hilary

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    1. Hilary I am so glad to bring back some great memories for you. Once you have been in Africa you always live a part of you behind. Maybe one day you will also return. Take care and have a good week Diane

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  5. Incroyable series of images Diane, j'adore! Does the Chobi National park get many tourists still? I should imagine so, apart from the experience of just seeing the majesty of these wild creatures, it's a photographer's dream vacation!

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    1. Grace it is so vast area driving around the park we only saw a couple of other cars but I am sure they have more than enough tourists to keep it all going. You have to get over your fear of flying and take a trip :-) Enjoy your week Diane

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  6. How wonderful it must be to see all of those critters... great photos.

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    1. Beautiful animals, birds and insects every where. It is a dream place to take photos. Enjoy your week Diane

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  7. One day, I hope to travel to Africa. I loved all the pictures. My favorite was the buffalo. He did not look amused. Cheers.

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    1. Ann if you can take a trip, especially to Botswana, it is a place well worth going to. Delightful and friendly people and great game viewing in a number of places. Keep well, cheers Diane

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  8. There really is no sound like the Fish Eagle. All you shots are spectacular. Brings back many memories and a longing to return.

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    1. You are so right, I could sit at a lake and listen to fish eagles calling to each other all day long. Africa has certainly captured a bit of your heart :-) Take care Diane

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  9. Hi Diane. I love your African posts. Are there any San still living in Chobe I wonder, or have they all been wiped out by the other tribes and disease. I have a hamerkop that flies over my house most days as it nests in the riverine bush down the road and eats frogs from my rock pool. I really don't want to burn my house down because of it. The Lilac Breasted Roller is one of my favourite birds but I have only seen it in Kruger Park where it is very plentiful.

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    1. Kim take a look at https://www.tripsavvy.com/san-bushmen-or-basarwa-4071453 it is an interesting article on the San people. They say there are about 100,000 still living in Southern Africa.
      The hamerkop used to regularly fly over our house in Rhodesia until all the goldfish were gone!!! Rollers are beautiful birds. Stay safe and keep dry with the terrible weather you are having. Diane

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  10. Oooooooooh!! How fabulous, Diane. Such a wonderful array of wildlife, interesting facts and superbly illustrated with your photos. The problem is that, every time you show us somewhere, I find myself wanting to visit that place!

    With my very best wishes - - - Richard

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    1. What is really stopping you from travelling? I would recommend Botswana for a holiday any day. Great game viewing and such lovely and friendly people. Thanks for the kind comment. Hope you have a good weekend. Cheers Diane

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  11. What a great set of pictures. I honestly dont know how many memory cards I would have to take if I get on a trip to Africa! Lots I think!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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    1. I thought that I had carried enough memory cards but I still had to buy another one!!!! Have a good week, cheers, Diane

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  12. Diane, you must write a book about Africa! Your posts are excellent!!! Do not apologize for the length, it's great viewing and I really enjoy it all! These would definitely be a great area to visit and I wish we could. Very interesting with the facts and all. Thanks so much!

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    1. Thanks Pam, I wish I had the skill to write about Africa it is an amazing place. The closest I have come to writing a book is the blog 'My Life Before the Charente' which includes the kindle book 'The Great 1953 Trek' So glad that you are enjoying our latest trip. Have a great week Diane

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  13. Truly fascinating and enchanting, Diane! I agree with Pam, you could write a book, and please don't apologize for the length, your posts are fantastic! I thoroughly enjoy your descriptions and beautiful photos. And I agree to keep a distance with the buffalo, the closeup shows him to be very ready for a fight, if needed. Thank you so much for sharing, I am late with responding, but I wanted to have the time to enjoy and explore.

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    1. Thanks Linda for coming back to earlier posts and do not apologise for being late with a reply. I know how busy you have been and I am hoping that you are getting some answers. Take care and glad you are enjoying our holiday. Diane

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  14. Another amazing day. We have the drongo here too. Love the buffalo licking his nose.

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    1. That was one friendly drongo, I got soooooooo close. T'other Diane

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