The animals shown below were all photographed in the Addo Elephant National Park.
Their large drooping fringed ears hang down below the horns. They sometimes look torn, ragged, or scarred from fighting.
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 have an acute sense of hearing, thanks to their large round ears that alert them to danger.
White hair covers the inside of the long pointed ears of red hartebeest.
The ears of the warthogs are prominently placed above their heads. They are leaf-shaped, with erect, slightly rounded tips.
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.
It is a week now that we have had to make do without water in our taps at home – the pump repairs, pipe repairs and whatever else may have gone wrong are supposed to be completed by Sunday. Perhaps this is why I am drawn to photographs of animals quenching their thirst in the Addo Elephant National Park. This time it is a herd of zebras.
Look at them, head down to slake their thirst at a waterhole. Drinking is clearly their main purpose for congregating here and judging by their focused actions, they must have been very thirsty.
Only a couple are left out, possibly they are keeping a look out on behalf of the others. There hardly seems to be space to fit in another zebra here.
This warthog didn’t think so either and settled down for a light doze in the sun until it too could get a turn to drink at the water hole.
The Woodlands Waterhole is very close to the Main Camp in the Addo Elephant National Park. While it is not very big, it is always worth slowing down when approaching it for more often than not there is something interesting to see. We watched an encounter between a buffalo that had been wallowing in the muddy pool and an elephant arriving for a drink.
A warthog took advantage of a quiet moment to slake its thirst.
An elephant family took over the waterhole for a while.
Once they had ambled off, a herd of zebra that had been waiting patiently in the wings arrived for their share of the water.
This and other waterholes are artificial watering points within the park – all greatly sought after during this long drought.
This warthog approached the muddy patch below the waterhole at Carol’s Rest with a sense of happy anticipation.
When you look at a warthog from close up you can clearly see that it has very sparse hair cover. It also has few sweat glands and so it is important to be able to cool down on a very hot day. Thick mud is perfect for the job. See the way the warthog has almost ‘cuddled’ into the mud. A mud-wallow such as this will help to reduce its body temperature.
After some time spent rolling around in the mud, this one got up and gave itself a good scratch. This might have been to relieve an itch or to rid itself of biting insects.
The layer of mud on its hide will also help to protect the warthog from sunburn.
At this time the summer temperatures can rise to over 40°C, making everyone thirsty. It is no different in the wild, where this threesome of elephants were the forerunners of a larger herd making their way across the dusty veld to drink at Rooidam in the Addo Elephant National Park. The elephant on the right has earlier submerged itself in either this or another waterhole nearby – as the darker ‘tide mark’ on its body shows. The darkened trunks also indicate that all three have already tasted the water at least and the dark ‘socks’ on the left elephant indicates how shallow the water is on the edge.
A warthog is taking advantage of the lull in animal traffic to enjoy a quiet drink of water from the waterhole at Woodlands. The water is so calm that it might even be admiring its reflection in the water while it quenches it thirst. All the waterholes in the Addo Elephant National Park are supplied by boreholes. That might be a covered pump next to the warthog. You can clearly see the concrete base of this waterhole and elephant dung in the background.
Sometimes it is not water one needs, but mother’s milk. Certainly that is what this zebra foal wanted in the middle of the day. Note how fluffy its hair is and the loving gesture of the mother placing her chin on its rump – the closest she can come to what we would call a hug, perhaps.
Birds require sustenance too and this Greater Double-collared Sunbird settled down to a good drink of nectar at Jack’s Picnic Place, quite unperturbed at being photographed in action. It visited each flower in turn before moving on to the next cluster.