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.
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 springbok models its striking looks for the camera - this season's colours are dark chocolate, toffee and cream. These dainty little antelope have had three million years to evolve into the beautiful and agile creatures they are today. A fossilised springbok-like antelope found in Herold's Bay cave in South Africa's Western Cape is between eighty and one hundred thousand years old! Springbok are resilient creatures - they don't need to drink much water and can stand quite high temperatures.
Sheep graze in mown wheat fields in Overberg. This region is named for its location: to get from Cape Town to these fertile farming lands, one has to go 'over' the Hottentots Holland mountains ('berge' in Afrikaans) via Sir Lowry's Pass. These rolling wheat fields are typical of the area which is known for its wheat production and fruit crops. The Elgin Valley in the Overberg produces 60% of South Africa's apple crops. The major towns in the Overberg area are Hermanus, Caledon, Bredasdorp and Swellendam.
A blazing sunset at Nxamaseri Island Lodge. This established lodge is situated in the Okavango Panhandle on the northwestern side of the Delta. Tiger-fishing in Nxamaseri is its most well-known attraction, but it is also a serene and remote place to relax. Each of the seven chalets is secluded in the surrounding indigenous forest and has its own deck overlooking the water. The incredible birds attracted to this beautiful environment include Pels Fishing Owls, African Skimmers, Wattled Cranes and Lesser Jacana.
Very few birds have thatching skills that rival those of the Sociable Weaver. These nests are frequently seen in the gnarled camelthorn trees of the Namib Desert. Up to a hundred pairs of weavers may breed in individual chambers in these warm, well-built nests. Sociable weavers generally prefer to build their nests with stiff grasses in areas that are not prone to veldfires. There are at least 150 species of birds in the unique terrain around Wolwedans, including the endemic Dune Lark.
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.
This bug was photographed at Woodcliffe near Maclear in the South Africa's Eastern Cape province. The long antennae of these kinds of insects have prompted people to refer to them as 'longhorn' beetles. However, there are many beetles of this shape, colour and description and not all of them are equally harmless. Many beetles feed on poisonous plants and build up reserves of toxins in their bodies which they can secrete when threatened.
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 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.
A zebra grazing in long grass takes a break to peer curiously at the photographer. When one has been travelling in African national parks for many years, it is easy to become accustomed to the striking looks of the zebra. Occasionally though, it occurs even to the most avid bushwhackers that these animals are right out of the psychedelic 1960s. Of course, the zebra's stripes are a vital survival tactic and play an important role in 'psyching out' predators, who seemingly cannot easily discern one zebra from another when they herd together.
The famous 'quiver trees' of Namibia's Quiver Tree Forest are so-named because the 'Bushmen' or 'San' people hollowed out the branches of these aloes to make their quivers (arrow-holders). These quiver trees grow near Nieuwoudtville in South Africa's Northern Cape - an arid area with less than 200 mm of winter rainfall and even less in summer. According to biodiversity researchers the range of these hardy aloes is shifting south to escape rising temperature in these hot regions of South Africa and Namibia.
A herd of lechwe surge through the waters of the Okavango Delta. These antelope have special adaptions that make watery habitats easier for them to negotiate - providing some protection from predators. Firstly, their legs are covered with a substance that repels water, and secondly, their especially long hindlegs help them to dash quickly through swampy areas. They are grazers and feed on aquatic grasses.
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.
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.
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.