Saturday, July 27, 2013

Mahango Game Park

The Mahangu Game Reserve is in NE Namibia at the start of the Caprivi Strip. The Reserve is located on the Okavango River where the river flows into Botswana's famous Okavango Swamps - it's a tiny reserve and not that well known, even amongst Namibians.

The area is home to many ancient large Baobab Trees.

In Namibia, the Savannah Buffalo is found only in the Caprivi region.

One of the 'Big Five', buffalo have a reputation for being extremely dangerous, especially when wounded.

I think that these beauties are Wattled Cranes - this region is a bird watcher's paradise.

Baby Vervet Monkey - there are a few troops in the reserve, also Baboons.

Bateleur - an Eagle.

A Hippo peers from behind a bush - awesome creatures!

A closer-up shot - just got to love those lips ... :)

A road sign warning to beware of Elephants ...

I told you to beware - this display caused me to flash on a previous Hair-raising encounter with an Elephant.

An African Fish Eagle sits on a branch over the river.

Roan Antelope.

Yellow-billed Egret on a burned tree stump.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

... and in Other News ...

Stretch Moonman visited a few times while I was up North - here he displays a magazine article about him and Namibia's Deadliest Snakes.

Stretch catches a female Boomslang at my home where they are common residents.

A close-up of the Boomslang's large eyes and mouth, showing two sets of deadly back-fangs.

The venom is potently haemotoxic and can lead to human deaths if not treated with a specific anti-venom. Fortunately the Boomslang is a rather shy snake and is reluctant to bite.

After Stretch released it, it sped away and disappeared quickly into the long grass.

I ruined a great photo-op because I didn't check my camera settings - a Boomslang swallowing a Chameleon.

After the snake had bitten the Chameleon, the hapless creature turned black and died within a matter of minutes - above is one of the few pics I was able to salvage.

I was amazed when I found this massive spider under a large water tank which I had moved - the first time I've seen one of these creatures.

I placed a matchbox next to it in order to show the size of the Spider - when I'd finished photographing it, I picked it up (with a shovel) and placed it under some corrugated sheeting, safe from predatory birds.

I found this tiny snake on the patio - it's probably about 15cm long (6 inches) - I'm not sure whether it's a Beaked- or a Typical Blind Snake - these snakes spend most of their lives underground and feed on ants and termites.

I loaded some building rubble onto the pick-up and transported it to the dump site near town. When I arrived at the site a group of men, who make a living off the dump, ran up and started unloading the junk, looking for salvageable items.

I heard a commotion from the men who had found this Stowaway amongst the rubble in the back of the vehicle - they were about to kill it but I stopped them, telling them that it was my Friend and that I would take it back home - needless to say, they looked at me strangely as they muttered amongst themselves and shooed it to the front of the Pick-up..

The beautiful stowaway is an Ovambo Tree Skink and when we got home it allowed me to pick it up and transfer it to a safe spot - pics by Nadine.

My blog buddy, Botswanan Author Laurie Kubuitsile sent me a copy of her intriguing book 'In the Spirit of McPhineas Lata and Other Stories'.

Laurie and I had come to an arrangement whereby she used one of my pics, taken from a blog post, on the cover of the book.

I felt so chuffed and proud - almost as if I'd written the stories myself ... :)

Johan Marais - Reptiles Of Southern Africa

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Kavango From A Car - Pt. 1

As a passenger on a recent trip to the Kavango Region, north of my Home, I was able to spend the journey taking pics of the passing scene.

I don't have stabilizers on my lens and, travelling at 100 to 120 kph, it's not easy to capture sharp images - I took a few thousand photos and managed to salvage these, I hope you find them interesting:

Most Dwellings in this area are made of wood and mud, with thatched roofs.

A young boy transports water in a Drum on a cattle-driven sled.

Transporting water is a major hassle and chore for most people in the region, the exercise can take a whole day - water is collected from communal water points, mostly very far from people's homes - lucky are those who live close to the boreholes and wells.

An example of the Nguni cattle breed found in the area. Nguni cattle are known for their fertility and resistance to diseases.

A young Cattle-herder atop his Donkey.

"Best Gloomy House" - one of the numerous Shebeens along the road.

I've got hundreds of pics of the sometimes comically-named Shebeens which are also known as 'Cuca Shops' - enough for a whole separate Post sometime ...

Kids using a net to catch fish in a pond.

Our destination was the Ngepi Campsite on the Okavango River, close to Divundu.

It was great to be amongst old, big Trees again - most people use wood to meet their basic energy needs and  the smell of Woodsmoke is always in the air; sometimes just a faint whiff and at other times overwhelming but, - ever present.

I've never been anywhere outside Southern Africa and I imagine that if I was on another continent, the one thing that would make me totally homesick is the smell of African Woodsmoke ...

Dozens of Thatch-sellers were camped along a length of the road.

Thatch is mostly used for the roofing of rural homes and also for creating Features (Lapas) in wealthier homes, hotels and game lodges.

Three young women stride along the road carrying sheaves to one of the Thatch Dealers.

The harvesting of thatch Grass is a seasonal and often the only source of income for many people.

Mbeyo Baptist Church - the walls are built with a stick frame which is filled with mud.

A young Hunter stalks a bird, catapult at the ready.

Transporting water on a Donkey.

... to be continued ...


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Scenes From Etosha Pans - One

It hasn't been all work and no play the last eight months - I've managed a few trips to the Etosha National Park, an hour's drive from my home:

Klein Namutoni Waterhole at Sunrise - there's nothing I like more than sitting quietly at a waterhole watching the comings and goings.

Giraffe at Twee Palms Waterhole. 

The trees are Ilala Palms (Hyphaene petersiana) and they occur in a broad swathe across northern Namibia. Known locally as the 'Makalani Palm' the fruit, a hard nut, is called 'Vegetable Ivory' because of the hard inner kernel which is used for carving trinkets and curios. 

The outer part of the fruit has a thin layer of ginger-flavoured pulp, much loved by Elephants and Baboons.

My first sighting of a Honey Badger (Mellivora capensis).

Honey Badgers are generally solitary, nocturnal creatures and have a reputation for being mean, aggressive fighters, even taking-on animals as large as Buffalo, going for the groin and genital organs, causing it's enemy to bleed to death.

Curiously, according to my Reference, "These animals are easily trainable and make interesting pets ..." - mmm, a Guard Badger?

Honey Badgers are omnivorous, feeding on rodents, snakes, insects and spiders. It's favourite food though, is Honey.

The Honey Badger's association with a bird called the Honey Guide (Indicator indicator) is well known - the bird locates a bees' nest then goes to 'call' a Honey Badger. The Badger breaks open the nest, protected from stings by its tough hide and underlying layer of fat, then shares the feast with the bird.

A Termite mound which has been raided by an Aardvark - the hole probably serves as a temporary home for some-or-other creature, like the Honey Badger, or Hyaena.

I was thrilled to spot this Caracal (Felis caracal) running across the road and into the bush where it stopped briefly to give me a photo-op - my first Caracal sighting in Etosha.

Caracal are the number one 'problem' animal in Namibia - they are responsible for considerable stock losses and are powerful enough to kill full-grown goats and sheep.

Lilac-breasted Roller (Coracias caudata) - a common bird in Etosha.

I managed to get close to three male Spotted Hyaena (Crocuta crocuta) walking resolutely alongside the road. 

They are strange creatures in appearance and behaviour; feared and associated with Witchcraft and Evil in African lore. However, "researchers regard the Hyaena as an animal of superbly adapted build, with a functional beauty of its own."

One of the Hyaena stopped to examine the car and I felt distinctly uneasy as it regarded me with unfathomable liquid eyes - the same eyes I've seen on kids who sniff glue ... almost like a death glaze ...

Etosha Agama (Agama etoshae) - Endemic to the Etosha Pans and surrounding area.

A visitor records the scene at a Waterhole, framed in his rear view mirror - I couldn't resist this shot.

I bought this Owl from a vendor at the Namutoni gate - it now hangs against a newly-painted Orange wall ... :)

... to be continued ...

Amy Schoeman - Notes on Nature.