The main feature of Etosha National Park in the northern part of Namibia is its salt pan which is believed to have formed a 100 million years ago and is 130km long and 50km wide at its widest point. In the local Ovambo language, The name Etosha means the “great white place” and can be seen from space. It is believed that the Kuenene River in Angola flowed into the pan a mere 16 000 years ago and formed a huge lake. The Kuenene was later diverted to the ocean due to tectonic plate movements.
There are many man made and natural springs in the park that provide life giving water to the animals and birds. The Etosha National Park is home to 114 species of mammals and 340 species of birds including 35 species of raptors. When you sit at a water hole and just watch the number of animals and birds that frequent the area you can start to image the devastation a drought in the park could have on the animal and bird life.
On a CNP Safari we work around the Western part of the pan and visit a number of waterholes in the area on a daily basis. The animals go about their daily routine of survival and if you are fortunate you are able to witness some of these encounters.
One of the special sightings we had on the last CNP Etosha photo safari was to see two large adult Giraffe do battle at one of the waterholes. This was no junior sparring match but a serious affair and the sound of their head blows could be heard from far away. They would push their bodies against each other to try and stop the other Giraffe from getting in blows to their legs and chest areas. The confrontation carried on from quite some time until one had had enough and moved off with the other Giraffe in pursuit.
We were also fortunate to see and photograph Black Rhinos on a number of occasions one of which came to the water hole late one afternoon to quench its thirst. The giraffes are every where and its not strange to see more than 12 individuals at the waterholes we visit.
The Impalas are all in the Rut at the moment and you can hear their unique bellows all over the park and confrontation between the rams is always just a few steps away. When they come close enough and the light is favourable then it can make for some great action photos.
The birdlife and bird photography is always special and a challenge to any nature photographer, so when the opportunities present themselves we work the scene to get quality images.
Of course the large lion pride of 19 lionesses and sub adults is still around the Namutoni area and we come across them every few days. On a cold morning they were all lying around on the soft grass next to a waterhole and the youngsters would play from time to time, to the annoyance of the adults.