ZEBRAS UP CLOSE

Zebras feature very often in this blog, which is no wonder for they are a magnet for me. They look beautiful out in the wild and so, how can one resist photographing these two standing so closely together?

As you can tell, I find zebras endlessly fascinating – look at this gangly youngster.

Zebras swish their tails to get rid of flies.

They also occasionally rest a hoof.

Zebras close-crop the grass.

This is what their heads look like underneath.

THE ADDO ELEPHANT NATIONAL PARK

Having mentioned the Addo Elephant National Park in my previous post, I delved into my folders to find a selection of photographs from a 2017 visit to give you an idea of some of the interesting things you can see there – apart from lions, hyenas, caracal and aardvarks that is. There are a number of carefully managed waterholes dotted about the park where, while exercising a degree of patience, one has the opportunity to see a variety of animals and birds. The Domkrag Dam is a favourite place to stop, for one is allowed to get out of one’s vehicle for a better view of the water over the low Spekboom hedge. On this occasion we were able to watch a small herd of Burchell’s zebra approaching from across the plain to drink.

Domkrag Dam is named after an enormous mountain tortoise that used to live in the area. What is significant about this tortoise is that it had the strange habit of walking underneath cars and lifting them up with its enormous strength! The shell of this famous tortoise is on display in the Interpretive Centre at Main Camp. Burchell’s zebra are frequently seen sharing the grassy plains with herds of red hartebeest.

Jack’s Picnic Site provides a welcome stopover for a comfort break and is well equipped with picnic sites, each containing a wooden table with benches as well as a place to braai if one wishes to cook one’s own food. Each site is well hidden from the one next door by a thick hedge of Spekboom and other indigenous bushes. It is a particularly good place to photograph a variety of birds from close up as most of them have become used to the coming and going of people throughout the day – and are always on the lookout for a fallen crumb or two! Something else that are a special delight to see there are the odd millipede or two, which we call songololos in South Africa.

The Spekboom Hide is also an interesting place to stop. Again, one can leave one’s vehicle here and enter a Spekboom thicket to peer through a strong elephant-proof fence to see what might be drinking from the waterhole on the other side. On this particular occasion a baby elephant caught my fancy even though it was part of a small family group of various ages.

Apart from animals, I am keen to watch birds in the Addo Elephant National Park. While waterholes are a good place to see waterfowl especially, there are often some interesting surprises along the roads too – such as this Spotted Thick-knee peering at us from the bush.

Much more easily visible are the Red-necked Spurfowl, the sight of which always brightens my day.

ZEBRA STRIPED PATTERNS

The striking black and white stripes of the zebra are used all over the world for textiles, ceramics, advertising, and for popular soft toys. I would have preferred this zebra-motif on a duvet if it was printed to run across the bed – perhaps the designer wanted to give the impression of zebras in the bed. If you look closely you will see two toy zebras peeping out.

The design is based on the common Burchell’s Zebra – this one is in the Addo Elephant National Park.

Another zebra we see here is the Cape Mountain Zebra, which has broader stripes. This one is in the Mountain Zebra National Park.

Here is a close view of the toy zebras peeping out of the bed.

A FOCUS ON ANIMAL EARS

The animals shown below were all photographed in the Addo Elephant National Park.

Cape buffalo

Their large drooping fringed ears hang down below the horns. They sometimes look torn, ragged, or scarred from fighting.

Elephant

The size of the ears of elephants helps to cool them down. They can act as a fan to move air over the body and also cool the blood as it circulates through the veins in the ears. Through careful observation one can learn to identify individual elephants by the nicks, notches, holes and missing bits caused by their travels through the bush.

Kudu

Kudu have an acute sense of hearing, thanks to their large round ears that alert them to danger.

Red hartebeest

White hair covers the inside of the long pointed ears of red hartebeest.

Warthog

The ears of the warthogs are prominently placed above their heads. They are leaf-shaped, with erect, slightly rounded tips.

Zebra

Zebras have large, rounded ears with lots of hair that helps to keep the dust out of them. It is interesting to note that the position of their ears can signal whether or not they are feeling calm or are alert to imminent danger in their vicinity.

ZEBRAS EATING

My first thought was to show you a few different zebras grazing on what looks like very dry grass to greener grass. Putting these photographs together, however, provides a marvellous opportunity to showcase just how different the facial markings between zebras can be.

This zebra has bold facial markings – and a dusty nose!

Note the very fine lines on this one – which also has a dusty nose.

The facial markings on this one are very bold – more stereotypical of the way zebras are depicted in children’s books.

This zebra has firm, clear lines – and much greener grass to eat!