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!