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Elephants in Etosha. Up Close. Really Close.

Sometimes the wildlife can get really close.  The animals here in Etosha have seen so many people in vehicles, they are not afraid as long as you stay in the vehicle.  Get out of the vehicle, though, and they can run or panic and become dangerous.  We had some elephants come very close in Etosha. Their behavior was very different than in the Okavonga when we came upon an elephant and it reacted as a wild animal that knows humans in boats are a real threat - he through up his head and trumpeted and warned us back. And certainly different than India when one of our bike ride companions was trampled by an angry female with a baby. While the parks protect wild game in many ways, they also become conditioned to humans and more susceptable to poachers. and there is poaching in Etosha - primarily of rhinos. The Etosha area elephants have smaller tusks, making them less of a worthwhle target for poachers looking for ivory. Here is the photo series:Two male elephants having a nice late-afternoon drink at the waterholeMom taking a video of them drinking from our truckThe elephant comes closer to have a look and a sniff.  We get nervous.  These are some of the biggest elephants in Africa.  This guy is huge.Eventually the elephant decides we aren't interesting and walks around in front of the car to find a tree to eat.  He munches on the tree until we have to leave to get out of the park gate before sundown.

Etosha National Park – more amazing animal photos

There are many baby animals in the park of all species this time of year.  This very young baby elephant was napping under the shade of his mother.  It got up, had a stretch, and then started to nurse. This young male lion has just finished eating his share of a zebra, and is off looking for shade to digest his meal while the three female lions in the pride eat the remains of the kill. Even though the females hunt, the male eats first.  We watched him swat off the females until he had finished eating. Male lions mostly lie around all the day ... interesting to me that the females tolerate it.   This springbok nibbles the leaves of an acacia tree with 2 inch long thorns.  Springbok travel in large herds, and when they are frightened they bounce high in the air and run with huge high leaps off the ground, moving amazingly fast considering how high they jump with each stride.     Lone male Red Hartebeast.  Many of the antelope species have one dominant male in the herd.  He forces the other young male out of the herd, and you see them either wandering alone or in small groups of males, away from the breeding herds of females and young.     The birdlife in and around the park is also extraordinary.  This Lilac Breasted Roller is just one of the incredibly beautiful birds - many which adopt incredible nesting and survival techniques to survive in the desert.   Red Breasted Shrike - formerly the National bird of Namibia until they won independence in 1990.  They replaced the lovely shrike with the fiercer Fish Eagle.   This Bee Eater has caught a juicy dragonfly.  It takes a while to choke it down, but it eventually manages.

Etosha National Park, Namibia – Photos from the Waterhole

Etosha National Park in Namibia had an incredible concentration of wildlife.  We camped here three nights, and had one amazing wildlife encounter after another.  This park is enclosed by a huge electric fence, and the animals congregate around the waterholes, making them easy to spot and observe their behavior. Many animals share the waterhole at the same time - often making uneasy eyes at the others as they all try to drink.  The waterhole was like the Switzerland of bush ... a cautious truce is the unspoken rule as hyenas and jackals drank within meters of antelope and zebra.  The truce even seems to hold true for the lions ... we saw two male lions lounging back from the waterhole while their prey drank nearby.  If the females had been there, it may have been a different story.   At one waterhole we saw seven different species drinking at the same time.   The young animals have much less fear than the adults, and they interact and play with young animals from other species.  We watched a baby zebra running around kicking up its heels ... bucking in circles and trying to torment the grown up zebras.  When none of his own kind wanted to play, it ran up to a baby kudu, and started chasing it, and the two of them tore around in animal play scattering the impala in a game of interspecies tag. Spotted Hyena Many animals are extremely vulnerable to attack while drinking - especially the giraffe which is very slow to approach the water and usually posts a lookout to keep an eye out.   The oryx must either wade into the water or drop to their knees at the edge to get their heads low enough to reach the water. They are also easily attacked while drinking, and are very

Rhino Party at the Waterhole.

Reflection of Rhino Mom and calf, and giraffe mother and baby in the waterhole after sunsetThe campgrounds and lodges at Etosha National park have viewing areas of waterholes, and they even light them for a couple of hours at night.  Mom and I watched an incredible interaction unfold one night with the endangered black rhinos, and even though we were freezing we sat there and shivered for two hours because we did not want to miss anything.The Rhino Party started with a large single male black rhino sharing the waterhole with three giraffe.  Soon, a mother rhino and her calf wandered down to drink. Eventually eight rhino, including two mothers and calves were at the waterhole at the same time.  They apparently have a standing appointment between 8 and 10 pm every night. They live alone, and wander in alone and solitary.  But they are social animals, and they gather at the waterhole and interact together - coming together in groups with heads together snorting and huffing and touching horns.  This inevitably leads to one of them getting offended, where they will throw their heads up and stomp backwards, snorting in clouds of dusts.  They will face off and snort and stare each other down for a few minutes.  Then one will charge the other - the mothers are particularly defensive of their young and keep themselves between the male rhinos and the babies.  The calves stick right at Mom's side and mimic every move, except for the charging, when they linger safely behind.  Two mothers separately backed of this huge male, and at one point ganged up on him to send him back to the outer edges and safely away.One of the rhino calves looked older and we believe was the equivalent of a teenage boy - he was

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