Predators around the waterhole

This is the first post from my recent photographic workshop with CNPSafaris to Etosha. It was late mid-May and the weather was perfect. Cool in the mornings but hot during the day and warm in the evening. We hardly needed jerseys. Each morning we would get up at 5h00 and be having breakfast at 5h30 so that we could be at the Namutoni park entrance by opening time- 6h15. The trip was essentially a photographic workshop and was a great learning experience for me not the least of which was because of my software conversion from Capture NX to Adobe’s Lightroom. Nikon will no longer support Capture NX with new model upgrades so we will probably not be able to read the raw files from future generation Nikon cameras.

“The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams.”
Oprah Winfrey

I have made the conversion and have not looked back. The images in this post are the my first batch from Lightroom.

Just after the Namutoni gate opened, we were travelling along the main road into the park when se saw this solitary young male Lion. It looked as if he had been feeding the night before. He was strolling along a path which ran parallel to the main tar road. It was still relatively dark. As always with wildlife you have to chose your moments. He was walking passed many bushes and branches but we managed to get a few clear foreground images even though the background was messy.

Etosha-0515-25-2 Etosha-0515-27-2 Etosha-0515-36-2

Once in the park we alternated between Klein Namutoni waterhole near the Namutoni camp and Chudob waterhole about 15kms to the south-west of the Namutoni camp. It was dry so there was not much point in wandering around as the game would concentrate around the waterholes. The bush away from the pans was thick making it difficult to see the game. We saw many Hyaenas around the Chudob waterhole. There must have been a den just inside the treeline on the west side of the waterhole. Each day the Hyaenas would come down to drink and bathe in ones and twos. Etosha-0515-11

On those days when its was relatively still and hot, the Hyaenas would come down to drink and invariably sit down in the water.


There was always one individual who would like to get itself completely wet.


We never saw the whole clan come down to drink together. I am sure if there had been an injured Kudu or Zebra at the waterhole thing would have been quite different.


The Hyaenas seemed obvious of the animals around them when they were at the waterhole. The Kudu and Impala and some of the Zebra gave them plenty of room. The occasional  Zebra stallion would take the opportunity to chase a solitary Hyaena away from the waterhole.


This female Hyaena looked particularly pregnant and invariably came down to drink on her own.


On a different morning, at first light we arrived at the Klein Namutoni waterhole just as the sun was rising. We were looking directly into the sun watching the youngsters in the Lion pride cavorting in the dust.


We had seen the Lions on the road from Naumtoni camp towards Fischer’s pan the evening before and Johan anticipated that they would go down to Klein Namutoni waterhole.


Some exposure reduction, increased contrast and boosting of the white balance generated a dramatic effect.


The Lions had great fun for about 15 minutes and once the sun was up they wandered off to rest in the bush and we did not see them again.


“Here’s to freedom, cheers to art. Here’s to having an excellent adventure and may the stopping never start.”
Jason Mraz


We got to see Cheetah and even a Leopard but from a distance and certainly nothing good enough to photograph. More active predators around the Chudob waterhole were the two Black-backed Jackal families. The one family comprised a mother and her two almost fully grown pups.


The one pup was extremely demanding but the mother was remarkably patient. The pup seemed to be licking her muzzle much in the same way that Wild dog pups do to get the adult to regurgitate food for them.


The Jackals caught the attention of a Giraffe who came down to see what was going on.


The second Black-backed Jackal family consisted of a pair with no pups. They were very playful and at times madly chasing each around. Normally you will hear Jackals before you see them but the two families we saw regularly around the Chudob waterhole were absolutely quiet.


The Jackals gave the Hyaenas plenty of room and seemed to operate at the treeline around 100 metres away from the waterhole.

Here are a few more images of the Hyaenas having their morning constitutional. In fact, the Hyaenas would come down to drink right through the day.


Although the Hyaenas seemed to be the top predator around the Chudob waterhole, they always gave way to the pachyderms.

Etosha-0515-117  Etosha-0515-119-2 Etosha-0515-120-2   Etosha-0515-216-2 Etosha-0515-222-2  Etosha-0515-237-2 

I will publish separate posts on the many giraffes we saw around the waterholes, the herbivores, pachyderms and birds.

We had a great trip and a special thank you to Johan Greyling of CNPSafaris for teaching us so much both in-camera and about Lightroom. I shared the  experience with photographer Hennie Blignaut. He and I both learnt much from Johan, which laced with Hennie’s wonderful sense of humour was great fun.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Mark Twain

Explore, seek to understand, marvel at its interconnectedness and let it be.

Have fun,




5 thoughts on “Predators around the waterhole

  1. Mike this I believe is one of your finest blogs, I loved it. I am interested in your comments about Lightroom and hope on my upcoming course with Isak Pretorius I am as enamoured as you are. Kind regards, Sue Goodman

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