A lion's eyes reflect the golden savannah and blue skies of his home. This lion's various conquests, squabbles and hard-won meals are mapped out in the scars on his muzzle. The defence of territory and mating privileges exacts a heavy toll on wild male lions: they fight so much with other males that they succumb to injuries quite young. While it is not uncommon to find fourteen-year-old lionesses in the wild, lions will rarely reach this age.
The afternoon sun glows gently on a white rhino. These rhinos are herbivores and spend at least half their day grazing grass. They like to drink water twice a day, although this is not a necessity. White rhinos play an important role in savannah ecosystems where they maintain a strong presence ñ in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Kenya. They are quite sociable and may stay in groups of up to 14 animals.
The word caterpillar designates any worm-like larvae of the butterfly or moth family, whether they are juicy and bald or thin and bristly. However, the word 'caterpillar' (which dates from the early 16th century) actually refers specifically to hairy caterpillars, because 'pillar' is derived from the Latin word 'pilosus' meaning hairy. This hairy caterpillar was one of hundreds crossing the road in the Karoo near Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Many of these unfortunate creatures end up as roadkill before they manage to turn into beautiful furred moths at the end of their life cycle.
A mongoose freaking out. These little creatures are well-known for their feisty natures. They are very territorial which often leads to confrontations between different bands of mongooses. They are carnivores and are known to hunt and eat creepy crawly things likes snakes, rodents, lizards, spiders and scorpions, and they are also occasionally quite cheeky towards animals that are much bigger and scarier than they are, such as lion cubs.
A pair of graceful Wattled Cranes in flight. At least half the world's Wattled Cranes can be found in Zambia, and there are large concentrations of them in Botswana's Okavango Delta, where they can often be found near Lechwe antelope and Spur-winged geese. These cranes are not great homemakers: their nests are makeshift impressions in the grass. Their chicks are vulnerable to jackals, but the greater threat to their welfare is the degradation of wetland habitats.
Overberg Cloudscape.A gloomy day in the Overberg is anything but grey. Here, the regions beautiful rolling golden hills are strikingly contrasted with the dramatic blue Hottentots Holland mountains in the distance. The two birds flying over the fields are probably Crowned Cranes, as these large birds have distinctive black and white patterns on their wings. The Overberg is a very crane-friendly area. It has particularly high concentrations of Blue Crane - the national bird of South Africa - which use the Overberg's wheat fields as breeding grounds.
A nyala doe stands quietly in the undergrowth. The lovely rich rust-coloured coat of this female is clearly visible here, as are her lovely long lashes and the three distinct white spots on her jaw. Each doe's spots are different, especially those on their flanks. They tend to look a bit like accidental drops of white paint. Female nyala look very different to nyala bulls which have much shaggier dark brown coats and tall, curving horns. This doe looks like she needs a visit from a hungry Oxpecker to help her get rid of some parasites.
Those lucky enough to hear the strange, booming call of this Southern Ground Hornbill are unlikely to forget this magnificent bird ñ the largest of the world's hornbills. Its looks are equally astonishing! Its gorgeous fringe of thick, dark eyelashes keep the dust out of its pale blue eyes which contrast vividly with its brilliant red facial skin and flamboyant wattle. Due to their diminished habitat and slow rates of reproduction, these hornbills are unfortunately listed as critically endangered in South Africa.
Knysna skies reflect off the gleaming shell of a worm curled up like a little armadillo in an ancient posture of defence. This worm was photographed in Harkerville Forest in the Western Cape province in South Africa. This area is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and its moist high-forest setting makes it a wonderful environment for discovering unusual life-forms like this one.
A little steenbok takes a well-needed rest. Steenbok have to rest a lot or they explode from their own adorable cuteness. They also tend to rest during the heat of the day, and quite often adopt this posture when they feel that they are under threat - laying low for a while until the danger has passed. Steenbok are at home in variable habitats, from semi-desert areas to thickets and plains. They can be found on the edge of the Kalahari Desert and at the Etosha and Kruger National Parks. While they prefer to be solitary, they pair up to mate.
Every detail of this leopard's muzzle is so vividly clear that it feels as though one could reach out and touch it. Leopards are often seen with their mouths slightly open like this - usually because they are panting to cool themselves down. Leopards are very adaptable and hot temperatures don't bother them much. They can live in lush jungle-like environments and dry arid ones. Their adaptability extends to their food sources as well: they prey on a huge range of animals.
This vividly-coloured dung beetle was photographed near Garies in Namaqualand. Beetles like this with one horn are sometimes colloquially called 'rhinoceros' beetles. In truth there are many different kinds of beetles with horns, although horns are more commonly on male beetles because they use them to fight. Dung beetles come in many different shapes, sizes and colours and play an important role in their ecosystems. They are also one of the few creatures known to use the Milky Way to orientate themselves.
A white rhino grazes contentedly as dusk falls. The speckles on this rhino's back are probably dried mud - white rhinos love to have regular mud-baths to keep parasites at a minimum and remain cool. This rhino has a magnificent horn which suggests that it is quite mature. A rhino's horns can grow to well over a metre in length if they live their full lifespan of thirty to forty years. White rhinos can reach up to 4 metres in length and may weigh as much as 3 600 kilograms.
This lovely little parrot stays close to savannah and miombo woodland areas and likes baobabs. It therefore has a range that extends from the far north of South Africa into Zimbabwe and Botswana. It occurs in particularly high numbers in the Okavango Delta where its favoured diet of nuts, fruit kernels, seeds and berries is plentiful. While this parrot is named after an eighteenth-century German naturalist, Dr Bernhard Meyer, these parrots are known by locals as Hwenga (in chiShona) or Hokwe (in Setswana).
Wolwedans comprises a number of sustainable camps situated in the private NamibRand Nature Reserve just south of Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert. This Reserve is the result of concerted efforts to rehabilitate former livestock farms. Although these mountains and sandy plains may look like an alien planet, this area supports a variety of grazing herds of antelope and thus a number of predators, including aardwolf (Afrikaans for earthwolf), leopard, spotted and brown hyena, black-backed jackal, bat-eared and Cape fox, African wildcat, caracal and genet.
A spectacular photograph of a Pink-backed Pelican skimming the water of a lake. These birds struggle to take off because of their large size, but once they are airborne they can soar for more than 100km looking for food. These pelicans prefer quiet, shallow waters where they fish for cichlids and amphibians, eating about a kilogram of food a day. On the eastern coasts of southern Africa they are often seen in the company of the Great White Pelican.