Posts in Category: Kruger National Park


Bull Elephant, Kruger National Park, South Africa

This good sized male Elephant at Kruger National Park looped his trunk up over his tusk while on the march. I am not sure if this a common behavior…I only saw it this once…but it seems like it might take some of the strain off the prehensile muscles while on the move.

Sony RX10iii at 165mm equivalent field of view. 1/500th @ ISO 100 @ f4. Processed in Lightroom.

Hippo grazing

Hippopotamus, Kruger National Park, South Africa

I somewhat maligned the Hippopotamus yesterday when I included it among Africa’s Big Five…the five animals that have no fear of a man on foot, and therefore are considered “dangerous game”. The fifth member of that group is actually the Cape Buffalo. However, as was pointed out to us several times during our stay, the Hippo kills more people in South Africa every year than any of the actual members of the Big Five. They are not aggressive at all, but you do not want to be caught between a Hippo and the water when Hippos are on the move, or between a Hippo mother and her calf at any time.

This image represents a somewhat rare sighting. Hippos have very sensitive skin, and can not stand long exposure to the direct sun, which is why they spend the day submerged in water, and only graze at night. Conditions in Kruger are so bad that this Hippo was out in full daylight, looking for food. Sadly the remaining grasses of Kruger after their long drought can not support the numbers of Hippos in the park. Dead Hippos are becoming a common sight in Kruger as they are dying of starvation at up 30 per week. The day I left South Africa they made the heartbreaking decision to cull 300 Hippos in Kruger and distribute the meat to surrounding villages. This image brings mixed feelings, to say the least.

Sony RX10iii at 485mm equivalent field of view. 1/250th @ ISO 250 @ f4. Processed in Lightroom.

Elephants in the bath

Elephants, Kruger National Park, South Africa

Elephants, Kruger National Park, South Africa

As I have mentioned before, Kruger National Park is suffering the worst drought in a generation right now. It is easy to find Elephants. They are clustered around any water source. This dam is one of the few that still has standing water, and the Elephants come to drink and bath. Elephants love mud. They coat their hides with it daily, I assume as some protection from the sun. It is fascinating to watch these huge creatures apparently at play in the water.

Sony RX10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. 1/640th @ ISO 100 @ f4. Processed and cropped slightly in Lightroom.

Greeting the sun…

Vervet Monkey, Tremisana Lodge, Balule Game Reserve, South Africa

Early every morning, just after sunrise, the Vervet Monkeys around Tremisana Lodge in Balule Game Reserve in South Afirca would climb high into the trees to bask in the first warmth of the day, well before the sun made it way down to ground level. If I was out before breakfast I was sure to see them, posted like lookouts on the new day. This fellow was distracted by my attention. Unlike most animals, Vervet monkeys are clearly not disturbed by direct eye contact with humans. 🙂

Sony RX10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. 1/500th @ ISO 100 @ f4. Processed in Lightroom.

African Scopes Owl

African Scopes Owl, Kruger National Park, South Africa

When we stopped for lunch our first day in Kruger National Park in South Africa, our Ranger/Driver asked if I had seen the Owl. Of course I had not so she showed me a tree with incident tape strung up around it and an African Scopes Owl sitting in a fork tight against the trunk, just above eye-level. Apparently it had been there for some time. I maneuvered around the taped off area to find an open line of sight for this shot. 

Sony RX10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. Program Mode. Processed in Lightroom. 

Agitated Elephant

Agitated young male Elephant, Kruger National Park

One of the things that impressed me about the Ranger/Drivers of Viva Safaris was how respectful they were of the animals they showed us. This young male Elephant at Kruger National Park was clearly bothered about something, and spent 15 minutes deciding if it was us, before bolting across the road in front of us in a mock charge. All that time our driver sat with one foot on the accelerator and a hand on the gear-shift, ready to move at need, but definitely giving the Elephant every opportunity to make up its mind. Even a young bull like this could easily flip a Game Viewer full of tourists, so I was happy when he decided that a brief show of force was all that was needed, and went on his way off into the bush.

Sony RX10iii at 150mm equivalent field of view. 1/320th @ ISO 100 @ f4. Processed in Lightroom.

Male and Female Giraffe

Female (front) and Male Giraffe, Kruger National Park, South Africa

This shot shows off one of the “tells” that helps us humans to separate male and female Giraffes in the field. The female in the foreground has tufts of hair on the tops of the bony protrusions on her head. They are not “horns” as such, since they are still completely covered by skin. The male, in contrast, has no tufts. His protrusions end in a smooth point…sometimes spreading to form a bit of a ball. Aside from the id aspect, I just like the graphic impact of this image…which is all, actually, I was looking at at the moment I took it. 🙂

Sony RX10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. 1/500th @ ISO 100 @ f4. Processed in Lightroom.

Blue Wildebeest

Blue Wildebeest, Kruger National Park, South Africa

The Blue Wildebeest is, of course, the iconic African Migration animal, the one you see thundering off a stream bank in a mass of horns and hooves by the hundred as they move across the African bush in season…but most of the year this is how you see them, at least during the day. During the day the herds are dispersed in small groups as the grazing allows, generally in the company of similar small groups of Zebras. Zebra have a “you watch my back and I’ll watch yours” arrangement with Wildebeest. Come sundown, the Wildebeests (and the Zebras) reform in larger herds. One of our game viewers, on a day I was not in Kruger National Park, was stuck for 2 hours as herd of Wildebeest crossed the only road out of the park. The largest herd I saw, at sunset in Kruger, was maybe 200, and they crossed while we were parked at the gift shop/camp ground 7k inside the gates, stocking up on water for the drive home.

Sony RX10iii at 214mm equivalent field of view. 1/500th @ ISO 100 @ f4. Processed in Lightroom.

Tandem Zebras

Zebras, Kruger National Park, South Africa

I had a lot of fun photographing the Zebras in Kruger National Park and the surrounding Game Reserves. They are easy. They just stand most of the time, most of the time in pairs, and the patterns their patterns make when they collide are always interesting…from a purely graphic point of view. This pair (and I use the term not in its familial sense but just as a numerical designation) show the erect manes of healthy Zebras, despite the drought in Kruger. According to our guides, the patterns on Zebras are as unique as fingerprints…and you can see the subtle variations in this image.

Sony RX10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. 1/640th @ ISO 100 @ f4. Processed in Lightroom.

Oxpeckers on a Giraffe. Happy Sunday!

Red-billed Oxpeckers on a Giraffe, Kruger National Park, South Africa

“If your eye is generous, your whole being is full of light!” Jesus

Oxpeckers have a mutulistic relationship with many of the large herbivores of Africa. The Oxpeckers feed on tics, lice, and flies from the hides, and especially from around the wounds, of everything from Antelope to Zebras. They benefit from the constant food source, and the herbivores benefit from having parasites removed, and wounds kept clean. it is rare to see a group of Giraffes, or an individual hippo or rhino, without at least a few attendant Oxpeckers. Some animals seem more attractive to Oxpeckers than others. The thick hides of Elephants, for instance, don’t seem to have much interest, while almost every Kudu I saw in Kruger National Park had at least one Oxpecker riding along. This Giraffe was infested with Oxpeckers…which probably means it was infested with ticks or lice.

The relationship is so close, in fact, that I was genuinely surprised to see Oxpeckers in a tree, doing regular bird stuff…flying around, harassing other birds…apparently even fly-catching over the tree-tops. I don’t know why it surprised me. They are birds, after all…closely related to the host of Starlings in Africa, and seen in the same mixed flocks…when they are “off-duty”.

Evolutionists would, of course, look to a long history of slow change that somehow turned a Starling-like bird into the Oxpecker of today. They would have to explain how the association developed between bird and herbivore, and why the bird, alone among its iridescent blue brothers, has become the color of dusty herbivore hide, not to mention the function of the red bill in survival and reproductive strategies. They would have to come up with naturalistic reasons for a lot, and there would be a lot, I think even they would admit, that they just could not explain. And it is not that I, as a man of faith, have a “better” explanation. It is easy to say I see in the Oxpecker an example of intelligent, of loving, design and creation. But that would really be taking it backward. I don’t believe in an intelligent loving creator because I see evidence in the Oxpecker. I begin with belief in the creator, through a personal encounter in Jesus, and then can see the Oxpecker in no other light. That is how it is with the generous eye. You see the world in the light of creation, and everything you see speaks of intelligence and love. It is, in fact, easy with the Oxpecker on the hide of the Giraffe…it is not so easy when we look at the worst of human behavior…but it is possible, and it is something I strive for each day. Happy Sunday!