Described by one visitor as ìthe nicest place on earth, the secluded indigenous bush of Nxamaseri Island lodge in the Okavango Delta provides a welcoming but exclusive environment for visitors. Situated in the Delta Panhandle, this owner-run lodge is a peaceful destination known primarily for its fly-fishing (tiger and bream). Guests may also enjoy peaceful trips in makoros (dugout canoes), birding safaris, and guided walks to see San rock art at Tsodilo Hills.
The hair and spines of hairy caterpillars have been developed as a defence mechanism. These fine bristles may lodge in the skin or mucous membranes of predators and cause irritation. There are a few birds that will swallow a hairy caterpillar whole (for example, some cuckoos will do so), but many birds tend to beat hairy caterpillars against branches to clean off the spines before gulping them down.
You should see the other guy. Lions are the second-largest big cats after tigers, and males may weigh more than 250 kilograms. It is quite a sight to see two fully-grown male lions battling it out in a half-tonne catfight. Their manes help to protect them from lashing claws and teeth, but the fights seldom end without a few nicks and lacerations.
Four Yellow-billed Ducks in flight, showing the beautiful iridescent blue and green speculums on their wings. These lovable little birds are found in many wetland areas in eastern and southern Africa, and are the commonest duck seen in agricultural areas. Rather than diving for food, they swim around dabbling at the surface of the water, and also forage on shorelines. They are not at all vulnerable to extinction but they are declining because of their tendency to breed with feral Mallard Ducks.
A Hamerkop trains a gentle gaze on the photographer. Hamerkop means 'hammerhead' in Afrikaans and here one can clearly see the hammer-shaped beak and crest for which this bird is named. It also has a well-known Nguni name, 'uThekwane'. According to Credo Mutwa, the well-known Zulu traditional healer, uThekwane is associated in Zulu culture with ill omens, vanity and futility. Hamerkops are found throughout southern Africa, mainly near fresh water.
A black wildebeest basks in the afternoon sun. These wildebeest are also called white-tailed gnu due to their pretty blonde tails. This photograph clearly shows the rather fantastic nose tuft and neat mohawk-like mane that distinguishes these gnu from their 'blue' cousins. The blue wildebeest has a larger muzzle and a longer, less spiky, mane. The name 'gnu' is said to have originated from the Khoisan's name for these herbivores: T'gnu, which refers to the bull's mating call, "ge-nu".
This is the typical pose of the grey foam-nest tree frog. These southern African frogs are pretty adaptable and are named for their frenzied breeding activities. When a female frog lays eggs on a branch, male frogs cluster around her and start whipping their sperm into a foam nest. The eggs are fertilised by all the males at the same time and therefore have a greater chance of survival.
A Grey Crowned Crane stalks through a grassy field with its two adorable chicks in tow. These chicks fledge in about four months from their birth date and will remain with their parents for a further six months after that. The colloquial name for these birds is the Mahem because of their characteristic trumpeting call. When breeding they also give deep booming calls and perform very eccentric dancing displays in which they leap around in circles, flapping their wings and bobbing their heads.
A black-backed jackal gets ready to catch a flying snack. These jackals have very varied diets, depending on what prey is common in their habitats. A single jackal is capable of bringing down an adult impala, but their diet may also include smaller antelope, rodents, livestock, insects, birds, hares, carrion, seals (in marine areas) and occasionally fruits and berries. They are known to store their food for later consumption.
Elephant gestation periods are the longest of any mammal - 22 months - and baby elephants form very close bonds with their mothers. Female elephants may even stay with their mothers throughout their lives until the mother dies. When a baby elephant is born it weighs more than 100kg. Within a few days of birth, the calf is able to keep up with the herd which is immensely protective of their young. Adult elephants have no predators but calves are vulnerable to lions and crocodiles.
The repetitive, almost mechanical-sounding trill of the Crested Barbet may be heard in a wide range of sub-Saharan habitats. This barbet's Latin name, Trachyphonus vaillantii, refers to its distinctive call, as trachyphonus means 'rough sound'. With colouring as raucous as its voice, the Crested Barbet looks a little bit like the punk of the African bush, and it has an attitude to match - often behaving aggressively towards birds that encroach on its territory.
The amber eyes of this cheetah stare piercingly back at the photographer. This cat looks quite fierce but, in general, cheetahs do not show much hostility towards humans who have, in turn, celebrated their elegance, speed and beauty. There are images of 'domesticated' cheetah that appear throughout human history, most notably in Egyptian hieroglyphs. In the 1920s Josephine Baker, the famous French dancer and actress, had a pet cheetah named Chiquita which intensified the public's impressions of her exotic persona.
A rare picture of a Kori Bustard in flight. These unusual-looking birds are reluctant to take flight, which is understandable, since they are rather large and thickset. Kori Bustards are more often seen walking sedately on the ground foraging for insects, seeds, carrion and acacia gum (hence their Afrikaans name 'gompou'). They are most often found in grassland, scrubland and bushveld areas in nature reserves in the Karoo, Highveld, Kalahari and Namib desert areas.
One of the most popular and memorable ways of seeing the Okavango Delta is by makoro - a local variant of a canoe - which is one of the primary modes of transport in this watery paradise. In the past, makoros were made of local trees, but these days some Bayei fishermen find it more convenient to use synthetic fibreglass canoes. Poling is a very peaceful and scenic way to view the Delta and affords visitors exquisite views of sunsets like these.
A Coppery-tailed Coucal enjoys the last few rays of a winter sunset. This bird is often active just after dawn and in the evening, foraging on amphibians, fish, reptiles, rodents, insects and crustaceans. It also preys on weaver birds and sometimes Blue Quail. Coppery-tailed Coucals are thought to be monogamous and, unlike cuckoos, they look after their own young.
A trunkshake is the elephant version of a handshake or hug. Sensitive and flexible, an elephant's trunk is used to gather food and water and administer dust and mud baths, as well as for communication and caresses. For example, when a female elephant gives birth, the herd will acknowledge it by touching her with their trunks. This photograph also shows a healthy pair of tusks. These are actually enlarged incisors and they grow quite fast - about 15cm a year - but are worn down by use. Elephants predominantly use them for digging, tearing trees and branches and fighting.