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African Wildlife Beyond the Big Five

“Did you see the big five?”

Conversations about African wildlife often begin with the question, “Did you see “the big five?” We fear that an exaggerated focus on them has been driven by local Chamber of Commerce leaders. “The Big Five” label – borrowed from safari hunting tours, is a marketing tool used to balloon the number of tourists drawn to Africa’s nature reserves. We wonder if many people are aware of the unfathomable diversity of animals associated with lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and buffaloes.

Yes, we experienced all those wonderful mammals, and a whole lot more that deserved our focus. How could we ignore that sudden movement in the shadow of that hippo?

Hippopotamus grazing alongside the Oliphants River in Kruger National Park.
Hippopotamus grazing alongside the Oliphants River in Kruger National Park.

We couldn’t, so we photographed the croc, too.

Nile Crocodile photographed under the bridge where we crossed the Oliphants River in Kruger National Park.
Nile Crocodile photographed under the bridge where we crossed the Oliphants River in Kruger National Park.

That bird of prey was shadowing a movement in the dunes of the Kalahari. “Oh my gosh!” It was a cape cobra!

Cape Cobra in the Kalahari Desert
Cape Cobra in the Kalahari Desert
Gerbil grazing in the Kalahari Desert.
Gerbil grazing in the Kalahari Desert.

 

We photographed them together hunting, perhaps for gerbils grazing the sparse vegetation. There are hundreds of bird species, reptiles, amphibians and dozens of many other mammals large and small.

In the previous two blogs about photographing wildlife in Africa, we focused on the lions found in Kruger National Park (along South Africa’s eastern border) and Kagalagadi Transfrontier Park in the northwest (sharing a border with Botswana). Dramatic as that king of beasts can be, the sheer numbers of other species experienced in those two locations is positively numbing. So again, from Kruger and Kagalagadi, we are posting here a sampling of the diverse creatures of Southern Africa. In the coming weeks, we will launch a new gallery representing a broad selection of our best Africa images.

Enjoy this preview and stay tuned. We will have African species you aren’t likely to find in a digital library anywhere else. I can’t imagine that there are many photographers or wildlife viewing enthusiasts who have been as driven as we were to record the image of everything we saw. Reliving that two month journey through our photos has been enough to inspire us to return to Africa and do it all again – even if in a limited fashion. We’ve  got to keep dreaming!

More Species from Kruger National Park

A spotted hyena, hid in the brush, became Terry's first photo subject as we entered Kruger National Park.
A spotted hyena, hid in the brush, became Terry’s first photo subject as we entered Kruger National Park.
Violet-backed Starling photographed in northern Kruger National Park.
Violet-backed Starling photographed in northern Kruger National Park.
Saddle-billed Stork (female) - Kruger National Park.
Saddle-billed Stork (female) – Kruger National Park.
Rufous Beaked Snake - Kruger National Park
Rufous Beaked Snake – Kruger National Park
Pygmy Kingfisher photographed in Kruger National Park.
Pygmy Kingfisher photographed in Kruger National Park.
Giraffes and impalas grazing in the bushveld of Kruger National Park.
Giraffes and impalas grazing in the bushveld of Kruger National Park.
ape buffalo (also called African Buffalo) photographed in northern Kruger National Park.
Cape buffalo (also called African Buffalo) photographed in northern Kruger National Park.
A young male Chacma Baboon in Kruger National Park
A young male Chacma Baboon in Kruger National Park
Southern Yellow-billed Hornbills in a fig tree, Kruger National Park, South Africa
Southern Yellow-billed Hornbills in a fig tree, Kruger National Park, South Africa
A bull elephant in Kruger National Park, South Africa
A bull elephant in Kruger National Park, South Africa
Zebra baby in Kruger National Park.
Zebra baby in Kruger National Park.
Tawney Eagle in Kruger National Park.
Tawney Eagle in Kruger National Park.

More Wildlife Species Found in Kagalagadi

Brubru in the Kalahari Desert.
Brubru in the Kalahari Desert.
Common ostriches are originally from the Kalahari and northern Namibia.
These females with young are genuinely wild Common Ostriches endemic to the Kalahari.
Black-backed Jackal
Black-backed Jackal
Gemsbok at the waterhole in the Kalahari Desert
Gemsbok – alerted by the arrival of lions at the watering hole in Kagalagadi Transfrontier Park in the Kalahari Desert.
African Wild Cat in Kagalagadi Transfrontier Park
The African Wild Cat – ancestor to the domesticated cat, photographed hunting lizards in the Kalahari Desert.

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