Once again I marvalled at the abundance of birdlife in Chobe National Park. Our tour group had a passenger, Carolyn, who specialised in African birds at the zoo she worked at in Texas. Her knowledge of birds was somewhat amazing!
One of the tallest species of storks is the Saddle-billed Stork which stands up to 120 cm high. It has a large crimson bill with a black band and a triangular yellow frontal shield (or saddle), and has black legs with reddish joints. The overall coloring is black and white--the head, neck, tail and wing-coverts black, the remaining plumage and the flight feathers are white.
Vultures may seem very intimidating to most people but I think they are pretty cool birds! They demand a presence wherever they are, they intimidate most creatures, they are imposing on the landscape and they feast on just about any carcuss to clean the environment!! I like 'em!!!!!
If my memory serves me correctly, this is a Pied Kingfisher which is a common, easily seen, black and white crested Kingfisher. It is the largest bird that is capable of a true hover in still air and this hunting method means it is not dependent on there being extensive woodland within its home range. They are usually found in pairs or small groups and they nest in burrows, often in small colonies.
At the end of another exciting day in Africa, and the end of the Chobe river sunset cruise, it was time to bid a final farewell to the hippo's who seem to dominate and own this place! These animals were so thick in places you could have walked across the river without getting your feet wet!
The birdlife is diverse, if not overwhelming in its numbers.
The Chobe river forms Botswana's northern border with Namibia and the boundary of southern Africa. Its water helps maintain a lush floodplain and rich variety of habitats vital to the multitude of animals that inhabit Chobe National Park.
Here a White fronted bee eater sits patiently as I zoom in a take its photo.
Not all of the Hippopotamus are in the water. As we cruised along the river we came across several "wallow" holes that were full of lazy hippos sunning themselves in the late afternoon sunshine. Hippos are vegetarians and feed exclusively on grass, they weigh up to two tons and can be four metres long.
A crocodile suns itself before the onset of night. The cruise is a fantastic experience and a great way to view a lot of game in a short space however it makes you feel that you are in the most hostile of places while on holiday! Crocodile, Hippopotamus, lion, elephant, snakes etc are all prevelant in this part of the world.
The most prominent feature of the Chobe National Park is the huge concentration of elephants. We stumbled upon this herd of elephants, with several generations in tow, pushing at the trees and eating their fill. The elephant on the far right was a little upset by our visit and was asking for us to leave!!!!
Everywhere you go in Chobe National park you will find impala. The graceful impala is the most abundant antelope in Botswana. It could possibly be mistaken for lechwe, puku, reedbuck or springbok, but may be identified by the black lines on the rump and tail, the dainty black ankle straps and black patch on the forehead.
I found the chestnut colour to be striking and they also have the most amazingly delicate legs that produce a teriffic amount of power.
In recent times, vervet monkeys have learnt to visit campgrounds, lodges and motels where they easily get lots of food. The food is obtained from tourists who happily give up their food or by the tried and tested method of break, enter and steal! These monkeys are quite tame, however if you try and recover stolen peoperty from them, they will bite.
This monkey was waiting by the waters edge awaiting an opportunity to get a safe drink.
A lonely impala risks everything to come down to the riverbank and take a well earned drink. He was very unsure and going by the amount of crocodile that we saw while cruising the Chobe river, I could understand his uneasiness. He did survive the ordeal and I am glad that I don't have to go through that much angst when I get a little parched!!
The African White Backed Vulture actually appears to be a uniform brown. The white back can be seen only in flight. This vulture is the commonest vulture in game country.
Vultures feed on the carcasses of dead animals, sticking their heads deep into the body cavity to pick bits of food.
This Vulture was spotted on an early morning game drive.
As mentioned earlier, there are in excess of 110,000 elephant in Chobe national park. While on an early morning game drive we spotted this elephant with a broken tusk. The tusk on the right (his left) should be facing forward instead of toward the rear. It did not seem to bother though as it was still able to feed on the bushes.
A highlight of our visit to Chobe National Park was the sunset cruise that was part of our Kumuka package deal. From the moment we stepped on board and pushed away from the bank we were impressed with the amount of wildlife and game that concentrated along the waters edge. A must do on any visit to this part of the world.
There is an uneasy feeling that overwhelmes you as you pass under the rear end of an elephant at a slow pace! It makes that trepedation as you pass under a pelican as it sits on a lamp post pale into insignificance.
Having said that, the early morning game drive is a must for any visitor to Chobe National Park but you must remember that you are looking for wildlife and they do not appear on demand.