Africa 2017

Chobe Riverfront Surprise

A Daily Dozen Post

We know wildlife is a gamble. Always. But if you had asked us what one animal we felt fairly sure of seeing on the Chobe riverfront, we would have said “elephant.” Last time we were here, we saw hundreds of elephants.

Well, surprise!

We saw no elephants! Actually, I need to qualify that: We saw no live elephants. Our friends, Ali and Mark, have never been to the Chobe riverfront and not seen elephants, so I guess that makes this trip unique and us . . . lucky?


It does, however, give me a theme for the Daily Dozen photos: I’m going with the unexpected.

Rock Python

Ten-foot rock python, Chobe riverfront, Botswana

Ten feet long!

At first, Mike didn’t agree with my ten-foot-long estimation, but as we got closer, he came around. We figured a 12-inch circumference, at least, at the widest part. Note how quickly the tail tapers to nothing.

“Mike, go lie down next to it so we have a size reference.”


There is no zigging and zagging for locomotion, just undulating. Check it out below or at YouTube. The video is seventeen seconds long.

Helmeted guineafowl

Helmeted guineafowl, Botswana

Helmet heads

These clowns, with their colorful heads, are seemingly everywhere. This is a species that lead-footed bus drivers slow down for (along with goats and cows—but not donkeys, who are, apparently, reliable) because they are prone to sudden stupid, panicky movements when wandering along roads. They need to wear helmets.

Because “helmeted” sounds like “helmet head,” I just call them “helmet heads.”

The red, turquoise, and spots are lovely, though, aren’t they?

Cape Glossy Starlings

Adult starling feeding young, Chobe National Park, Botswana


If this bird has never been hunted or farmed for its feathers—or followed closely as it’s preening—I don’t know why. They are iridescent and gorgeous, perfect for fashion and decor, and worn best by those with yellow/orange eyes.

This adult has no time to preen, though, with hungry offspring to feed.

Slender Mongoose

Slender mongoose, Chobe National Park, Botswana

I spy with my little eye . . .

What do you call an overweight slender mongoose? No, I don’t have the answer; I’m asking you.

These guys appear weasel-like to me, but apparently they’re more closely related to cats and hyenas.

Marabou Stork

Marabou stork perched in tree, Chobe riverfront, Botswana

Not exactly a perching bird

It cracks me up to see these long-legged birds—nearly 5 feet tall!—perching in treetops, and they do it a lot.

Of course, they’re also beautiful . . . to their mothers.


Tortoise, Chobe National Park, Botswana

Look at those spiny tortoise legs!

Say “tor-twa,” not because it’s right, but because it’s fun.


Beautiful warthog, Chobe riverfront, Botswana


I love these guys! (Okay, yes, I love most of the animals we’re seeing.) They just look so . . . interesting! I think someone had some fun with the “liquify” filter when designing the species, grabbing and stretching the animal’s cheeks in several places.

Many of our photos show the upper tusks, but this one shows the lower, smaller tusks, too, which I think adds to the whole smiling look.

You probably know that elephants and rhinos have been and are hunted for their ivory tusks. Well, these guys are, too. Warthogs, however, aren’t an endangered species. I still think the ivory looks best on the living, snuffling warthog.

Vervet Monkey

Vervet monkey, Chobe National Park, Botswana

Sure it looks cute and friendly here . . .

We have some experience with habituated vervets, and we are resolutely determined to make sure they don’t get the best of us, even if it means keeping the truck windows up in 100-degree temps, and that’s exactly what it means.

This is one of many monkeys at a rest area in the park, one of very few places (the only place?) visitors are invited to get out of their vehicles and picnic. We didn’t see them at first, but they crawled out of the woodwork the instant we got out of the car. The windows were open, and we both moved to defend our sides as a dominant male lunged toward the car. It was enough to fend him off, but only just. When I made a big move to try to scare him off, he then fake-charged at me instead of running way. The cheek! Of course, that just ticked me off, but let’s be honest, who wants a nasty monkey bite? On the other hand, I am human, hear me roar—or in this case, hiss.

Mike managed to get the key in the ignition and the windows up before any monkey could zip past either of us, and they didn’t have the guts (thank goodness!) to have a go at the back when we got fresh beverages out of the fridge. One was on the roof, checking out the side windows, while we were at the back, though.

Monkeys doing their wild things are cute, habituated nuisances . . . not so much. Well, maybe they’re still a little cute.

Camouflaged Giraffes

Camouflaged giraffe legs, Chobe National Park, Botswana

What do you think, effective camouflage or no?

Camouflage at work! Interesting, no? How many giraffes do you see here?

Muddy Lions with their Quarry

Lions on elephant kill, Chobe riverfront, Botswana

Muddy lions with their elephant quarry

Here it is: The only elephant we saw on the Chobe riverfront. A young one. Dead. Killed during the night by these mud-covered lions. You can’t see them in the picture—which is shot from far away—but the feline dining crew includes two small cubs. One swung, carried, and played with the detached elephant’s tail. From our distant vantage point, it appeared to be a group of four lionesses and the two cubs. Other than the one playful cub, they were quiet, still, and undoubtedly full.

Jacana and Hippo

Jacana and hippo, Chobe National Park, Botswana

Um . . . excuse me . . . Sir? . . . Are you awake?

If you had asked me what second animal we were most likely to see here on the Chobe riverfront, I would have said, “hippo.” They did not disappoint.


Ever wonder where the Greeks came up with the Sisyphus story? Wonder no more.

Watch this video here or at YouTube; it’s less than a minute long.

Chobe Riverfront

Chobe Riverfront, Chobe National Park, Botswana

The swamp sausages are out on the Chobe riverfront

4 replies »

  1. I LOVE your summaries, images and comments. Always fills me with awe over the wonders of nature, and you make me chuckle with your perspective on the nature. Merry Christmas, Mike and Jen!

  2. Thanks, Chrissie. Merry Christmas to you, too! Enjoy your snow. I hope you’ll do as much snowboarding even though the boys aren’t home.