Kalahari: Herds

This is part of a series of photographs from our 2008 and 2009 trips to the Kalahari.  Click here to see a map of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

In going through all our photographs while putting together this Kalahari Series, I’m beginning to see very clearly where the “gaps” are.  It’s something that we will have to make an effort to rectify during Kalahari 2011! We don’t have a lot of photos of the small mammals, the birds, the reptiles and insects . . . or the herds.  Maybe because the herd animals are more plentiful (as in number of animals in one group), easier to spot, and really quite common in this part of the world. They’re an important part of the semi-desert ecosystem though, and often one of the first indicators – at least to visitors like us – that the area received “good” (this can sometimes be a rather relative term) rains during the last summer. As we go to the Kalahari towards the end of Winter/the beginning of Spring, we then see a lot more “baby” buck running around, and the herds are noticeably bigger.

Gemsbok eye close-up (©2009 WMB)

The eye above belongs to a Gemsbok. A very large buck which is specifically adapted to life with very little water, and very high day-time temperatures. The South African side of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park used to be called the Kalahari Gemsbok Park, because the Gemsbok are such a feature there. Often standing silhouetted up on the red dunes. We have seen mostly smallish herds (approx 15-20 animals) of Gemsbok or solitary Gemsbok.

Lone Gemsbok (©2009 WMB)

Another big herbivore of the Kalahari is the Blue Wildebeest. An odd looking “bison-like” creature.

Lone Blue Wildebeest (©2009 WMB)

Below is a photograph of Gemsbok and Blue Wildebeest at a water hole in the Nossop river bed (with a couple of ostriches, if you look closely, thrown in). We spent a while watching these herds because they seemed very restless and nervous. Most of them standing around watching, while a few buck at a time drank at the water hole. Usually this kind of thing indicates that there is a major predator (or predators) very close by.  We waited to see what would happen, but after a while had to move on.

Herds at a water hole (©2003 WMB)

For those of you who don’t know, the Springbok (see below) is one of the emblems of South Africa. The name comes from its habit of “pronking”. An Afrikaans term which means jumping/springing/bouncing around. Think of pogoing on four legs, and with forward movement! It’s a very pretty buck with very a distinctive colouring and horn shape. In the soft light of sunset their coats look like velvet.

Springbok at water hole (©2009 WMB)

These Springbok were at a water hole in the late afternoon, and were also very cautious. Taking a good long look around before two of them bent down to drink.

Springbok drinking (©2009 WMB)

Although Springbok are also well adapted to the harsh, dry environment, they will often be seen to be huddled together under the shade of a big thorn tree during the midday heat. Although the thorn trees don’t always look that impressive, their shade can reduce the temperature quite significantly.

Springbok herd in shade of big thorn tree (©2009 WMB)

This is part of a series of photographs from our 2008 and 2009 trips to the Kalahari.  Click here to see a map of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.


About lisa@notesfromafrica

I live on the Southern coast of South Africa, and write about the things that interest, amuse or inspire me. You can find me at http://notesfromafrica.wordpress.com and https://southerncape.wordpress.com (my photoblog)
This entry was posted in Nature ● Environment, Photography, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Kalahari: Herds

  1. Dave Joubert says:

    Did you hear about the huge number of wildebeest and other herds that perished after the veterinary cordon fence was erected in Botswana in the early 1980s I think? Don’t have the details.

  2. There is more info at http://tinyurl.com/fencedilemma (Page 75). Scroll down to Environmental Issues – The Fence Dilemma.

  3. Rako says:

    Some really cool shots here ! 🙂

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