Prickly Pear Cactus…

Prickly Pear Cactus, family Opuntia

I came across this cactus, or is it cacti, (this language called English) when in the Kalahari visiting my Son. I know the genus is Opuntia… but which particular cactus it is.?? Don’t ask me… I just found the flowers and new fruit a great photo opportunity…

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Puff Adder.. Not a Rapper..

African puff adders (Bitis arietans).

Bitis arietans is a venomous viper species found in savannah and grasslands. It is responsible for causing the most snakebite fatalities in Africa owing to various factors, such as its wide distribution and frequent occurrence in highly populated regions.

The venom has cytotoxic effects and is one of the most toxic of any viper. The venom yield is typically between 100–350 mg, with a maximum of 750 mg. About 100 mg is believed to be enough to kill a healthy adult, with death occurring after 25 hours.

An ugly snake to be avoided in the bush as he will not move away like most snakes, but will strike with deadly force and cause a very sore painful bite.

When I was an learner Land Surveyor, involved in a job at Victoria Falls in Rhodesia I came across one of the biggest Puffies I’d ever seen. Thinking it dead, I poked it with a survey rod and it struck immediately, not being the conservationist I am now, I killed it. That evening we all met at the Peters Motel for drinks, it had the biggest pub in the area (at least 20m long, 60 foot), I took my now dead snake with me, the pub was full of tourists and locals and on entering tossed it on the pub counter. 30 seconds later the pub was empty, the two barmen had exited via the dirty glass opening (smashing 100s of glasses) and I stood laughing my head off…. some how the Manager/Owner was not amused and banned me for life… I took Linda there many years later… he remembered me, but after explaining I’d settle down and was no longer “bush happy” he forgave me… I’m still sure he loaded my bill that day… here’s some photos of one I found the other day… he refused to go into the strike pose which is very strikingly (no pun intended) beautiful….probably too cold…

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Gemsbok.. of the Kalahari.

Gemsbok (Oryx gazella)

A large antelope with striking black and white markings on the face and legs, black side stripes on the flanks and a long black tail. Bulls measure 1.2m at the shoulders and attain a mass of 240 Kg. Both bulls and cows have horns. The male horns are shorter and stockier than the female horns.

Gemsbok mostly feed on nutritious leaves, grasses and herbs. During the dry season they feed on flowers and will also browse for food. To supplement water requirements gemsbok dig for succulents and extensively eat tsama melons.

The behaviour of this species is geared to energy and water conservation. In the heat of the day they will lie-up in the shades of trees. Where shade is not available they will orientate themselves to present as little as possible of their body surface to the sun. Lone bulls are common and have been known to kill attacking lions by impaling them with their strong horns.

This like the cape buffalo is a tenacious animal… and have been known to attack predators that prey on their young, as demonstrated in this video clip, don’t give up on the clip, the young survives… here’s some photos of them in the Kalahari desert…

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Zebra… a Black and White portrayal…

I quite like the black and white effect of the Zebra when depicted in a B & W photo… I saw a photo taken so many years ago by my Mother in Rhodesia and this gave me the encouragement to play a bit.  Some of the photos I also enhanced a tad using Photscape a free photoshop type program..

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Crested Barbet

Crested Barbet (Trachyphonus vaillantii)

With its thick bill and very colourful plumage the Crested Barbet is unmistakable. This small bird has a speckled yellow and red face with a small black crest. The belly is yellow with red speckles, wings are black with white specks and it has a broad black band on its neck. Yellow head and body with black and white feathers, with red markings on the head of the body, its colour blends in so well in the bush.

They are found alone or in pairs. They like to bounce around on the ground looking for food, they usually call from a branch in the open. They are not the best fliers and fly only for short distances. They roost in holes in trees. Very vocal, the call being a trill that can continue for long periods. They are aggressive towards other birds in their territory and will chase off both nest competitors and other birds such as doves and thrushes.

Here a photos of a bird I capture on the Golf Course in Kathu….

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Goliath Heron

The Goliath Heron (Ardea goliath),

also known as the Giant Heron, is a very large wading bird of the heron family. It is found in sub-Saharan Africa, with smaller numbers in Southwest and South Asia.

This is the world’s largest heron. The height is 120–152 cm (47–60 in), the wingspan is 185–230 cm (73–91 in) and the weight is 4–5 kg (8.8–11 lbs.).Among standard measurements, the tarsus measures from 21.2 to 25.5 cm (8.3 to 10.0 in) and the wing chord averages around 60.7 cm (23.9 in) in length. The culmen measures from 18 to 20 cm (7.1 to 7.9 in), while the bill from the gape measures around 24 cm (9.4 in).

Goliath Herons are solitary foragers and are highly territorial towards other Goliaths entering their feeding territories.

This particular bird I found at Lake Panic in the Kruger National Park, and as I entered the hide it struck and caught a fairly large Carp. As you can see I had little time to take the photograph, and in front of me was a fairly large Lady with a big camera and lens, her arms were just as big and I was not going to argue with her.. but here’s the result…

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It left the water and went into the taller grass where it either swallowed it whole or left it for later…

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A half hour later it re-emerged and drank water and took a bath, before returning to its original fishing spot.. must have been hungry…

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Elephant. Natures Big mother.

Elephants are the largest living land animals on Earth today.

The way I eat chocolate, I’m doing my best to haul them in.. Elephants are a symbol of wisdom and are famed for their memory and intelligence; their intelligence level is thought to be comparable to that of dolphins. The saying is “An elephant never forgets”, I’m like that, till it comes to birthdays and wedding anniversaries, but this is a monster that I love to watch. So many stories are bandied about of their memory, how they live in the deserts and know exactly where to go for water and food at certain times of the year. I just love the critters…..

This one was not too friendly and gave us fair warning of that, I gave him a smile and he forgave me, never to forget…

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