Skip to main content


Showing posts from December, 2021

Green Wood-Hoopoe

  The Energetic Green Wood-Hoopoe Some birds simply refuse to cooperate when I attempt to take their photographs. For years, these sprightly avian wonders have thwarted dozens of my attempts to capture their beauty. I see them frolicking from my kitchen window, but when I run for my camera, they bop around so fast that I end up with a tip of a tail, or a bunch of leaves, or a blur of something completely unidentifiable.  During a recent trip to @mosethlathebushcamp in @madikwe, we found a family of these red-beaked cacklers hopping in and out of a dead tree they probably called home. I felt as if I had struck gold because they never perch for long, but there were enough of them on the leafless tree that I thought I might get lucky. I snapped and snapped, hoping I would capture one or two good shots. My photo doesn’t do them justice, but you can see the bright red beaks, the glossy greenish feathers, and the splashes of white. Gorgeous. They are social birds, flitting around touching ba

A Baboon Family

  A Baboon Family This baboon family makes me happy. The setting is peaceful, all four calmly sitting on a rock, at rest. Except for the baby looking directly at our game vehicle with curiosity, the other three's eyes gazing elsewhere.  Despite their sharp as daggers canine teeth, nut-crushing jaws, naughty opportunistic foraging of camper's food, and a hierarchy of dominating male bullies, baboons can be quiet and peaceful, going about their daily business in a well-defined social order.  These old-world monkeys thrive in friend and family units; females form strong bonds to raise and protect the kids, forage for food, and stay loyal to the troop for their entire lives. Like human families, they comfort each other, play, and squabble but ultimately come together for the good of the community and protection from predators - for the most part. Yes, there's a bit of infanticide by the males, beating females for the heck of it, violently tossing little ones to the side when th

The Tragedy of Human Despair

  The Tragedy of Human Despair in South Africa I came across this scene while running errands. The person, a man, I think, sat on the dirty, tar road at a robot, straddling the center and right turn lanes on a busy street. The light had turned red, so I was forced to face the human tragedy of poverty, hunger, and hopelessness.  It’s not like I hadn’t seen people on the streets begging for food, clothes, jobs, or anything to sustain them for another day, but this was different.  He rested in a fetal position, head bowed and covered by a white t-shirt juxtaposed against black clothing. And what about the books? I couldn’t see their titles; maybe one was a bible.   He was as still as a statue and as quiet as the dark before the dawn. He did not flinch or moan, nor did he have pleading hands reaching out for a tidbit of salvation.  The human was simply there, a tableau worthy of a production by the Ontological-Hysterical theatre company in New York City’s lower east side who keep their dra

Wild Dogs

    Rarely Seen Endangered African Wild Dogs In seven years of living in South Africa, I have only seen wild dogs, also called painted dogs because of their mottled coloring, four times; three in SA’s reserves and once in the Okavango Delta in Botswana. I am of two minds when I see them. I shiver in awe on one side and fear on the other. Watching the pups at play is as delightful as seeing our family pets frolicking with their canine pals in the park.  However, when on the hunt, they are focused, relentlessly determined, and terrifying.   The dogs travel and hunt in packs and have an astonishing 80% success rate. Compare that to the mighty lion at 30%. Wild dogs will even corner petrified prey against electric fences, forcing the animal to electrocute themselves before going in for the kill. But why am I terrified when I see dogs on the hunt? Because I have witnessed a pack of four descend on a baby impala and eat it alive.  Of the four dogs, three were young and robust, one was an old

Baby Hyena Up For Adoption

  Dateline: The Kruger -  Baby Hyena in Need of Adoption Last year, while traveling the roads in The Kruger National Park, his little jasiri, darling in Swahili, loitered on the side of the road every day my friends and I roamed the park in search of animals. At first, we thought, holy cow, look, it’s a baby spotted hyena - an extremely rare sighting. And she (it may have been a he, but it’s was hard to tell, so, she it is) is not fleeing from us in fear. So we took photos and oohed and aahed at our luck. Until we thought about it? Why was this little female hanging by the side of the road all by itself? In the middle of the day? Where was her mom, her clan? Hyenas run in large groups; we were confused. Why was this baby all alone? Sadness overwhelmed us when we realized that she was on her own without knowing how to fend for herself.   We passed her several times; she was always there, in the same spot. Once, when we slowed down, we were shocked because she approached our vehicle. She