The Daily Dozen: Namutoni to Halali, Etosha National Park

Twelve photos from each day of our Africa adventure.

Today we drove from Namutoni to Halali in Etosha National Park where there is another Namibia Wildlife Resort.

Etosha National Park contains a giant salt pan that’s big enough to be visible from outer space. That pan, which is currently dry, is essentially a desert. The far side disappears on the horizon, blurry with heat shimmers. The idea of crossing the pan makes my insides feel hollow. Heat, sand, and no water frightens me.

Presumably, though, since this is a pan, there is water here from time to time. I try to imagine what that’s like.

There is nothing out on the pan just now, but on the grassy plains nearby we see the usual suspects.

Mama wartog and babies, Etosha National Park

Mama wartog and babies, Etosha National Park.

A warthog mama leads her babies to a waterhole. Mama is about two feet tall at the shoulder.

Mama Zebra and nursing baby, Etosha National Park

Baby zebra nursing.

A zebra mama nurses her baby. Notice how Mama’s black stripes are especially narrow. She appears lighter than other zebras.

Zebra stripes, Etosha National Park

Zebra stripes.

How many times have I said it? Zebra stripes are mesmerizing. How clean the lines are. How interesting that they extend up the mane. Beautiful. And each zebra’s stripes are different.

Four giraffes, Etosha National Park

Giraffes on their way to the waterhole. Click for a larger image. Use your back button to return here.

Giraffes. Does anyone else hear spaghetti-western music when looking at this picture? Click for a bigger image and see if you hear it.

Female steenbok, Etosha National Park

A female steenbok. So dainty.

Lady steenbok. She’s dainty, less than two feet high. She lives alone or with a male and/or her offspring. She doesn’t rely on surface water, and she buries her urine and feces. We’ve seen her kin just about everywhere we’ve been.

Note her big, beautiful ears. The dark pattern in the middle, like leaf veins, is where there is no long, white hair. She’s a dear but not a deer; she’s an elegant antelope.

And then there were some not-so-usual suspects . . .

Spotted Hyena, Etosha National Park

A spotted hyena in Etosha National Park.

Finally! A spotted hyena. I’ve been eager to see hyenas, and they didn’t disappoint. There were several in the vicinity of a waterhole. They were walking amongst giraffes and impala, looking longingly at all of them, but the other animals paid them no nevermind.

Impalas unconcerned about a hyena nearby, Etosha National Park

Dissed and dismissed. Impalas pay no attention to the hungry hyena behind them.

Hyenas seem to get little respect as predators. They’re also scavengers that steal other predators’ kills, which may explain their problem getting respect.

Hyena family, Etosha National Park

Adult hyenas check in with snoozing young at a waterhole.

But they are also devoted family members. Three adults and a subadult visited, nuzzled, and played with four cubs while we watched at this waterhole. In this photo, three cubs are snoozing in a pile having just been visited by the two older family members. Raising young is a group effort.

Hyena drinking, Etosha National Park

A hyena quenching its thirst.

Whatever the other animals think, I find the hyenas endearing.

Red hartebeest, Etosha National Park

Red hartebeest, Etosha National Park

Another not-so-usual suspect we’re enjoying here in Etosha is the red hartebeest. We’ve seen a few, but not especially well. Here we’re seeing a good many.

They’re dark like the tsetsebes. In fact, they look a lot like tsetsebes, but they’re not quite as red (which begs the question, Why are hartebeest called ‘red’ while tsetsebes are not?); they lack the golden shins; their faces are more narrow; and their horns are a different shape. In general, I find tsetsebe pretty but hartebeest rather funny looking.

Red Hartebeest face profile, Etosha National Park

Profile of a hartebeest.

The funny-looking-ness begins with the very straight profile of the face. But tsetsebe have that, too, so there’s more to it than that. Wildebeest have a convex profile and all the other antelope have concave profiles.

What makes a hartebeest odd is the way the forehead extends a ways up the base of the horns. The top of the head is a sort of mesa upon which the horns sit. Tsetsebe do not have this. As far as I know, no other antelopes have this.

I think the sharply hooked horns are cool, though. They look like screw hooks to me, perfect for hanging things on. And the ridges on this guy’s horns are especially nice.

As great as all these animals are, they were not the highlight of the day. That, again, goes to a cat, . . .

Male leopard, Etosha National Park

Oh, my! Click for a larger image of this handsome leopard. Use your back button to return here.

. . . a magnificent male leopard. And again, you get just one picture. The story of this leopard is the animal highlight of the entire Africa trip. You’ll see more pictures and hear all about it another time. Until then, isn’t he gorgeous?

Categories: Africa, Africa, Travel

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