Readers’ wildlife photos

July 11, 2023 • 8:15 am

Tony Eales has returned from a safari trip to Botswana, and sends some gorgeous photos. (There will be more, too). Tony’s narrative is indented, and you can click on the photos to enlarge them.

Just recently got back from safari in Botswana. Without a doubt one of the most amazing experiences of my life. The safari was 9 nights with relatively equal time first in the Okavango Delta, then Moremi Game Reserve, then Chobe National Park on the border with Namibia. Finally, we ended up at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe which very nearly overshadowed the whole safari. The Falls are almost incomprehensible in the beauty and awesome power. I took thousands of photographs of beasts and bugs and it’s way more than I could cover in a single email. Today I thought I’d show some of the highlights of the Okavango Delta.

This is dawn of our first day in the delta showing the palms and termite mounds that dominate the dry parts of the landscape:

The delta is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa and a UNESCO World Heritage area. It is one of the few river deltas that does not have an outlet into a sea or large water body but instead spreads out and disappears into the Kalahari Basin. This is us heading to our campsite in the basin with the indigenous people of the delta:

We obviously didn’t have the safari car in the delta and instead we went on ‘walking safaris’ where everyone stayed in a single file line without breaks for safety and walked out into the plains and thickets. Our guide was a very knowledgeable and fun local called “Master”. Here he is showing us a zebra skull:

There was much to be said for the walking safaris but approaching the animals was harder than it proved to be in the cars. The animals were much more suspicious of people on foot. We heard lions roaring in the morning but on advice of another group we met, it seemed the lions had cubs and would be difficult and perhaps dangerous to approach. We nevertheless saw elephants, giraffes, zebra, buffalo, warthogs, and numerous antelope, in particular countless impala. Here’s an impala (Aepyceros melampus), a waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus) and some warthogs (Phacochoerus africanus) near our camp:

The star of our patch of the delta was a hippo (Hippopotamus amphibius) who hung out right where we docked the canoes in front of the camp and we could see peeping at us throughout the day:

. . . but the shot we all waited for was the occasional yawn:

Bush Elephants (Loxodonta africana) approached very close to the camp on several occasions. This one pausing for a dust bath:

The birds too were numerous, fascinating and beautiful. African Jacana (Actophilornis africanus):

Pale Little Bee-eater (Merops pusillus ssp argutus):

Lappet-faced Vulture (Torgos tracheliotos)

But of course, my real love is arthropods and it was here in the delta that I found the most amazing bug of the trip. Genus Pephricus, one of the cryptic and bizarre Spike Wilter Bugs:
Also, in great variety and abundance were ants. These ones, known as Hotrod Ants (Ocymyrmex sp.) were collecting dead shells of termites.

After our time in the Delta, we moved to the Moreme Game Reserve which is in the northeast part of the delta and to traditional safari car game drives. But that’s for next time.

13 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

    1. It’s a coreid or leaf-footed bug. You can only really tell from the head. At first I thought it might be a giant spikey lace bug

  1. Thank you for posting these wonderful photos.
    The hippo yawn and elephant dust bath were such perfect shots. Very exciting.
    That Little Bee-eater photo is incredible!
    Looking forward to seeing more.
    The Spiked Wilter Bug is quite a specimen.

  2. Brings back memories. I loved seeing some of the okavango delta. The little group I was in split at noon. One group, including me, went to camp. The others went to get a closer look at en elephant. They finally arrived back at camp; their shirts torn and bloodied as the bull elephant had chased them from island to island for almost 40 minutes. Nevertheless, the bird life was impressive.

    1. Heh, yes, wanting a ‘closer look’ at some of the large mammals can have consequences. We went for a trip in the canoes one day and everyone skirted around as far from the hippo as possible on the way out except this one older Latvian gent who wanted to take the opportunity for a close up picture. We all heard the sounds of the hippo mock charge and his video of the incident was quite alarming. Could have been far worse.

  3. Wow! Sounds like an epic trip. I loved all these (esp. that Spike Wilter bug) and can’t wait to see more. Thanks!

    1. now that you raise it I can’t be completely confident that they weren’t removing the undigestable head parts from the nest. Their movements are very erratic and I didn’t observe them for a long time. But in the last shot there seemed to be more termite heads outside the hole than in the first shot.

  4. It’s 37 years since I was in the Okavango delta and your photos brought back some wonderful memories. Thank you!

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