Before we move on to the next part of our holiday travel, I wanted to share one last round of photos from Erindi Game Reserve. Lisa’s one sentence summary of Erindi, “All of the beauty and animals of Namibia combined with all the comfort of a five-star, western-style accommodation.” And all you can eat buffets for every meal!
This black rhino is named Lippy by the guides due to an injured lip. He was a bit shy and was constantly on the move. Luckily, Lippy moved from the brush into a large clearing so we had a good view of him for a bit. This is the only rhino we have spotted so far in Namibia (and Botswana).
A male lion relaxing with two females during the heat of the day.
These three elephants met for a drink at the watering hole and then went for a swim to cool off. And they gave trunk hugs to each other as a greeting.
One of the elephants decided to exit the water hole by throwing its weight around and plowing right through a large group of hippos. They scattered unhappily in all directions. Note the maribou stork enjoying the show and high stepping in the background.
Two waterbuck. This variety of antelope has a distinctive white circle on their hindquarters.
Our view from the safari vehicle with Tim our guide at the wheel. Since Erindi is a private reserve, the guides are allowed to go off road which helped us to get some great photos of animals and birds. A termite mound is on the right side of the dirt track.
A photogenic crocodile sunbathing at the water hole at Erindi Lodge. You didn’t even have to go on a game drive to view animals at Erindi. We saw crocs, hippos, elephants, zebra, wildebeest and many species of birds all while sipping our coffee on the viewing deck.
Many times you would see the giraffes off to the side of the road, their heads all that was visible bobbing above the acacia trees. This group posed on the road for us.
We had to travel a bit from the lodge area to get to cheetah habitat – wide open plains with less brush that is more suited to the cheetah’s quick sprint predatory style.
One of the big highlights of our holiday travels was to see African wild dogs at Erindi Game Reserve. They are referred to as hyper-carnivores as a pack will usually hunt twice a day for food. These dogs have a very high rate of success as predators. Unfortunately, outside of protected areas they are frequently killed due to their appetite for prey, including livestock. They are also highly susceptible to domestic dog diseases such as mange and rabies. Only about 6,600 wild dogs remain in the world.
Erindi has had a difficult time introducing wild dogs in the past, but the current pack is thriving. The dogs like to sleep under trees and during one storm a few years ago, most of one pack was killed when the tree they were sheltering under was struck by lightning.
This pack was initially kept in an enclosure near the main Erindi lodge and then released nearby so they hunt mainly in this territory, allowing visitors a great opportunity to see these animals up close. All of these photos were taken 1km or less from the lodge.
African wild dogs beginning the hunt.
The younger dogs trail the older ones as they pick up the scent of wildebeast.
Taking a short break, the fence around the Erindi lodge is visible.
We missed the kill but got there just as the pack began their feast.
Family photo at the wildebeast dinner.
They don’t clean themselves before, during or after meals, so the dogs have a very strong odor.
We were not tempted to pet this guy.
Sharing a wildebeast rack of ribs.
The final countdown! But don’t worry bird fans, upcoming posts will feature many more winged friends from Nunda River Lodge on the Kavango River and from Chobe National Park in Botswana.
Tawny eagle. This bird was sitting on the very top of a tree while a pack of African wild dogs were just waking up for the day under its lower branches.
Southern pale chanting goshawk. These birds seems to be more common in the southern regions of Namibia.
Helmeted guineafowl. Very common all over southern Africa. The turkey of Africa. Our game guides seemed to get pleasure over almost running over these things as they crossed the road. In future travels, I hope to see the crested guineafowl which has an Elvis-style pompodour.
Lappet-faced vulture. The largest vulture in Southern Africa. Considered to be one of the “ugly five.”
I really like this photo but I can’t identify the bird. Maybe it is a female or juvenile bird of a common species? It seems to have a very yellow beak, and I can’t match it to any of the yellow birds in Roberts.
More birds from our December 2014 trip to Erindi Private Game Reserve. Future posts will feature some of the animals we saw during the 12 hours of games drives. My main birding resource is Roberts Bird Guide, a great field guide to the birds of southern Africa. Highly recommended.
Woolly-necked stork. Look at that plumage! A very sweet find for a bird nerd such as myself since this bird was a couple hundred kilometers south of its usual region. Our guide was excited as well and took photos himself so you know it was a proper rare bird sighting.
Black-winged stilt. Look at those sexy legs! (and you can only see the top half of the legs in the photo) This wading bird has the distinction of having the longest legs relative to body size of any bird.
Wood Sandpiper. This was one of the four different bird species we were able to spot at a small marshy area.
Little Grebe. Not the best photo of this most common grebe in the region. This rufous-chestnut necked bird builds a floating nest. It owns a personal island just like Johnny Depp!
White-browed sparrow-weaver. They make messy nests (especially compared to the southern masked weaver) but they can sit casually in a very thorny acacia tree.
Kori bustard. My favorite bird name so far. This distinguished looking bird is the largest bustard and one of the world’s heaviest flying birds. It is classified as vulnerable.
Red-backed shrike. This is my best guess for this bird based on what our guide said. It is a juvenile shrike we think.
Shaft-tailed whydah. The tail will get much longer later in the breeding season.
Egyptian geese. A very commonly found goose species here in Southern Africa.
Erindi is a private game reserve located in between Okahandja and Otjiwarango in Namibia. It is 70 719 ha in size and has many of the famous safari animals such as giraffe, zebra, lion, cheetah, rhino and elephant. We first learned about the reserve through the Animal Planet TV program Into the Pride.
Erindi also has many species of birds thanks to its numerous water holes and varied terrain. I am a novice birder but Southern Africa is a great place to learn!
Pygmy falcon (Smallest diurnal raptor in the region)
Sociable weaver nest. Tens to hundreds of birds live in one of these large nests.
Secretarybird (Its main prey is snakes, which it kills by stomping with its large feet. They are typically more than 1 meter tall but this one still made it difficult to get a good photo.)
Common ostrich (This one was racing the safari vehicle.)
Marabou stork (The pink sac hanging off of the neck is for cooling and for display. It is also the reason this bird is considered to be one of the “ugly 5.”)
Better photo of a marabou stork with the air sac not visible.
Some of the birds we saw during a recent visit to Swakopmund, Namibia. (Click to open a larger version.)
Laughing Dove and Cape Sparrow (I think they are friends)
Southern Masked Weaver
Over the holidays we spent some time in Swakopmund and took a great tour of the local desert with Tommy’s Living Desert Tours. It was a highlight for my parents who were visiting Namibia (and a highlight for us as well!). Tommy is quite a character, and his passion for the desert landscapes, wildlife and conservation is inspiring.
Here are some photos from the tour:
Bob Shusko with the smaller tour vehicle
Desert Bunny (Sorry not sure of the real name – Namibian Desert Hare?)
Namib Dune Gecko
Can you find the snake in this photo?
Sidewinder Snake out of the sand
Namaqua Chameleon (On a side note, I recommend the Namaqua Dry Red Wine from South Africa. It comes in a convenient 5L box.)
Tommy in his “office.”
A Shovel-Snouted Lizard on Lisa’s ear. Both survived the process.
The desert and dunes meet the ocean just south of Swakopmund, Namibia.
A sea of dunes behind us near the end of the tour.