Still in Etosha

We drove from Onguma Lodge to Eagle Tented at Epacha through the Etosha Park.  It's an easy drive, well signposted and the roads well travelled so there's no concern about getting lost.  One thing about being there in the winter or dry season, is that the amount of traffic on the roads generates a hell of a lot of dust and the vegetation gets absolutely coated in it.  You can really imagine the bush just hanging in there, parched and covered in dust waiting on the summer rains to wash them clean and give them a chance to breath.
The road side vegetation looks at times as if it is covered in a light dusting of snow,although when you stop to take a look, the coating of dust really is quite thick.
 
The animals always find something to graze or browse on.  This small impala really looks as if it's grazing on nothing but is probably eating the soil for it's mineral content.  This is behaviour that you see all over the Etosha pan, the animals utilise the minerals in the soil.  The birds have favourite areas on small banks and the elephants can be seen scraping away at the soil surface to get to the minerals that they want.





All sorts of animal behaviour is in display when you are watching animals, not all of it immediately apparent or obvious.  You'll as no doubt, why I have included a picture of an Oryx (also known as Gemsbock) peeing.  Simple really when you understand a little about these animals.  They go extended periods without drinking any water when they have to.  They are incredibly well adapted to the desert environment in which they live.  The classic pictures that you see of the Oryx standing proudly atop a dune is behaviour designed to allow them to catch even the slightest hint of a breeze to cool themselves.  They also "fool" the body into thinking it is cool by deliberately cooling the blood flow to the brain more than the blood flow to the rest of their bodies.  If there ever was an animal that has adapted to life in the harsh deseet environment, it's the Oryx.  So when you think of it, to see an Oryx peeing is quite unusual.

Although we have normally been to Namibia in July, the so called wet season, we've never had any shortage of animal sightings, the dry season does concentrate the animals at water holes, so you end up doing less travelling for more sightings.  We spent some time at a water hole near Okaukuejo watching the animals at play in and around the water hole.  Try and count the number of zebra in the photo to the left, you can understand looking at this shot how predators can be fooled by their markings and not really know where to launch their attack.
When you spend enough time at the waterholes, you really do start to anticipate what the animals are likely to do in most circumstances, you'll see zebra rolling in the dirt taking their dust bath or mothers nursing their young but all the while there will be one of the herd, probably the dominant stallion keeping a look out on what's going on around the water hole. 
It's pretty hard not to get engaged by the animals when you are photographing them.  But, I think that makes for a better photograph, if you're just mechanically snapping at everything that just happens by then you may as well send a robot, the animals all have personalities ( don't worry, I am not anthropomorphising ) and there are times when you can see from the actions of the animals that there's the possibility of an interesting shot coming up.
The Zebra have incredibly sight and hearing and with the numbers that are around the waterholes, they end up doing sentry duty for the other animals.  When a Zebra decides to scarper, you'll see every other animal in and around the waterhole take flight too.




Cheers

DADFAP