This is the first of a series which will profile some of the beautiful animals that I have enjoyed and photographed while either living in, or on return visits to South Africa. Visitors to national parks in this country are treated to the most amazing variety of wildlife. On my last foray into Kruger, for example, I observed a total of 180 different animal species over three weeks. Many were spotted very frequently, others only once or twice. Without exception, they were exciting and beautiful to watch.
Outside the parks, there is still a lot to see and enjoy, but the animals are generally a bit more timid and elusive. It helps to have a lot of time to explore some of these places.
Already, I have posted quite a number of articles about African animals and this series will expand on those. (To see previous posts, please use the Wildlife > Africa menu at the top of this site)
There is a marked difference between the seasons in some of the inland climates. In Kruger for example, summer is wet and hot and the bush is thick, leafy and green. Animals are able to find water holes all over the place, so there is little need to go to rivers where predators may be problematic. Wintertime is when things get dry. The bush is easier to see through and spotting animals can be a lot easier. The latter also have to go to rivers and reliable waterholes to drink; again, making them easier to find.
Nyala are a relatively large species of buck and appear reasonably often in my sighting records. Males with their long horns stands about the same height as an adult human, while the female is a lot smaller. I love the distinctive and beautifully coloured markings on the head of the males.
This animal was quietly grazing and paused long enough to let me take (quite a few!) photos, before moving away. Male Nyala are indeed very imposing and stunning animals! The females are beautiful in a totally different way. The white stripes and markings across their back are abundant and quite distinctive against the rusty brown colour of the rest of their body. They are best described as pretty!
They can also be very timid and cautious, especially with a young calf at foot. The female shown below, her mate and a calf took a good half hour to cross a road to get to an adjacent river and drink. The banner at the top of this post shows her scenting the air before emerging and bringing her calf out into the open.
I get a thrill from seeing all buck species, but Nyala are definitely one of my favourites.