Bucking the trend

I have decided to buck my recent trend of introducing a one bird and one mammal category each week. This week I am introducing two antelope categories into the gallery.

Eland and Gemsbok are both found in the drier regions of Southern Africa.

Eland

The Eland is the largest antelope in Southern Africa. A big male Eland can stand 1.7 metres tall at the shoulder and weight up to 840 kilograms. Despite their size, Eland can jump over three metres high.

One gal decides the other is too close. Those horns are sharp so a quick dodge is a good idea.

One gal decides the other is too close. Those horns are sharp so a quick dodge is a good idea.

Eland are part of the Spiral horned antelope family, which includes the Kudu, Bushbuck, and Nyala. These antelope are “Track-on-Track” walkers, where they put one foot down and then the next foot on the same spot to minimize the amount of noise they make in the bush.

They can survive in most climates from desert to Bushveld, to Lowveld, and mountains. They move in small herds and I have seen them in Botswana, Kruger Park and  Giants Castle in the Drakensberg. Both male and female have a flap of skin on their chest known as a Dewlap, The males have a particularly large Dewlap, which helps them to thermoregulate in hot dry habitats.

This Eland bull was pushing his horns into the moist sand around a waterhole in Etosha. I have never seen this behaviour before but it could be to relieve dry itchy skin at the base of his horns.

This Eland bull was pushing his horns into the moist sand around a waterhole in Etosha. I have never seen this behaviour before but it could be to relieve dry itchy skin at the base of his horns.

I have not seen Eland canter but they are superb trotters with that Dewlap swinging wildly under their necks as they trot.

The second antelope category I have introduced into the gallery is the Gemsbok or Oryx.

Gemsbok

Now this antelope can gallop when a lion is after it. The markings on the Gemsbok are striking. with their dark brown almost black colouring at the top of their legs and a black strip around the side of the belly and up the back. The Gemsbok’s face is boldly marked in black and white, while the body is mostly a light fawn colour.

These two Gemsbok were sparing close to a waterhole in Etosha.

These two Gemsbok were sparing close to a waterhole in Etosha.

I have seen Gemsbok in the Nauklift National Park and Etosha in Namibia and Kalagadigadi Transfrontier Park  incorporating the corners of Namibia, Botswana and South Africa.

These are also amazing antelope. Similar to other animals found in desert regions, the Gemsbok has an efficient water management system. They can survive without surface water by obtaining enough moisture through the vegetation they eat. In another thermo-regulation adaption, they are able to increase their body temperature, to some say as high at 45 degrees centigrade, in order to delay evaporative cooling through perspiration. At night when the temperature drops then their  body temperature normalises.

In addition, Gemsbok have an intricate network of blood vessels in their nose which cools  blood supplied to the brain, preventing deadly overheating. They also reduce heat absorption by keeping their bodies angled away from the sunThe sparing can look quite dramatic at times. Neither animal got badly hurt. Waterholes in Etosha always yield interesting wildlife interactions.

The sparing can look quite dramatic at times. Neither animal got badly hurt. Waterholes in Etosha always yield interesting wildlife interactions.

Gemsbok spend much of their day inactive in the shade (where possible), which saves energy and water and reduces overheating They also graze for long periods at night when the moisture content of the vegetation is higher.

These are just a few of the amazing adaptions our wildlife have to their surroundings.

I hope you enjoy the added categories. I have also added a few new shots to other categories. My aim to to constantly upgrade the photographic quality of the shots in each category as and when I get better results.

Don’t stop dreaming about your next trip into the bush  – a wonderland of surprises and fascination!!

Have fun

Mike

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