What’s Gnu with You?

I knew from solving crossword puzzles that wildebeest are also known as gnu. What I didn’t know is that a herd of wildebeest is known as a confusion. I’m not certain whether that is because it looks like mass chaos when they migrate in huge bunches, or because wildebeest look like a conglomeration of an ox head, a horse mane, and buffalo horns. Another term is “implausibility,” perhaps for the same reasons.

Wildebeest are included in the safari “Ugly Five” list. I personally think they look more interesting than ugly, unless you’re looking at this bull with a broken horn and grizzled ear.

This wildebeest was the only birth we witnessed during our safari.

Calves are up on their feet almost immediately after birth.

Wildebeest are very protective of their calves. Hyenas, lions, cheetahs and African wild dogs prey on wildebeest. The calf on the right is the same one as the prior two photos.

Is this a confusion? An implausibility?

Perhaps a dazzling confusion? A confusing dazzle?

The wildebeest led the way across the water, paving the way for their zebra compadres.

Dazzled by Zebra

A herd of zebras is called a dazzle – one of the most descriptive group names I have ever heard. Aren’t they dazzling? I am excited that one of them is looking directly at the camera.

Zebra and wildebeest hang out and travel together. Wildebeest have better hearing and zebra have better sight so they can work together to warn of impending danger.

Also zebra eat tall grass while wildebeest eat shorter grass so they are not competing for food.

These two young male zebras are competing for the attention of the young female. This skirmish went on for quite a while up and down the lakefront.

Zebras seem to enjoy turning their backs to people. I’ve noticed this at zoos as well as in the wild. Sometimes you just have to make the most out of circumstances.

This lovely young zebra was kind enough to be cooperative.

We encountered a herd of zebra and wildebeest crossing a body of water. I wish the water had been clear enough for reflections.

An entirely separate zebra skirmish. Boys will be boys.

A classic zebra portrait, complete with swishing tail.

It’s hard to pick a favorite zebra shot, but I do like this restful scene complete with a flock of flamingoes.

What next? I’ll make a decision after my Photo Club presentation tomorrow evening.

Tons of Elephants

Today is World Elephant Day. Six months ago I was actually in Tanzania seeing elephants in person, so there’s no better time to post about the tons and tons and tons of elephants that I saw. I am working on a presentation for Photo Club a little later this month, so I have been diligently perusing the thousands of shots I took.

The very first game drive photo I took on safari last February was of an elephant, notably with my own camera and lens rather than the top-of-the-line equipment I borrowed from Canon. One of the first admonitions from photography pro Jeff Cable was not to neglect wide angle shots. I did my best to follow that advice every day.

There are an estimated 3,000 elephants living in Tangire National Park, and I think we saw every single one of them. Mike G of M&M Photo Tours told us that his first safari group saw only six elephants. Our group was much more fortunate; sometimes we were surrounded by elephants on all sides as far as the eye could see. I wish I had a good wide-angle shot with a huge group of elephants, but my tendency seems to be to focus on smaller groups such as this one, with elephants spanning a range of ages. By the way, a herd of elephants is known as a memory.

The lighting was not always ideal, but we had many opportunities to shoot iconic elephant shots such as this one slowly lumbering along with ears fanned.

Elephants love water. I particularly like this shot because it caught water movement in two different places.

The elephants had no fear of our safari vehicles and would cross the road in close proximity to our great delight.

Some of the elephants coated themselves in clay dust to help themselves stay cooler. Or perhaps just to become a redhead.

Here’s a little guy doing the same thing:

One of the benefits of seeing so many elephants was the opportunity to watch for different types of shots, such as these these elephants that almost seem to have choreographed their walk.

One phenomenon I noticed in Africa is the number of times that animals turn their backs to humans. Sometimes you just have to seize the opportunity for a rear view.

Some elephants do cute things with their trunks, like this one curling it around its tusk.

Or this elephant enjoying a snack:

One evening we came across a small memory of elephants in lovely evening light as we returned to camp.

These adolescent bull elephants treated us to an extended skirmish. This is my favorite elephant shot of the safari.

I probably have sufficient elephant photos for another weblog post or two, but first I plan to feature some other animals. Stay tuned!