Telling stories of the Etosha Pan

My wildlife photography has mostly been about telling a story – by capturing a moment, a gesture, an interaction, of the animal(s). While I love portraits, too, gestures make the picture more exciting and storytelling to me. 

Last August-September, our tour group spent time in Etosha National Park, a park teeming with wildlife and birds. It was a drought year, but that made the animals more concentrated around and at the water holes and certain savannah areas where there was still grass to graze. I set a goal to capture stories – in just one frame. That meant observing the animals closely and watching for signs of behavior or gesture. Our guide was great – he would call out what he thought was about to happen, which helped us all learn to see the ‘telltale’ signs after a while. But even he couldn’t predict all the moments that we saw, which made it fun for him, too.

In the main blog picture, ostriches, as it turns out, love to eat the acacia blossoms. Only they don’t just pluck them off the thorny branches; they toss them

in the air as they feed on them. Once I saw this, I knew I had to get a photo of it. It took a lot of tries to get the timing right, and this was one that I just love because the ostrich has such a happy look on it’s face! And why not when there’s food to eat! 

In the images below of the zebra, knowing they were very social animals, we just had to stay long enough to watch and see what might build between groups or pairs of them. First, there was the wonderful ‘necking’ and this mother and child were so sweet; then there were three ‘bad boys of the plains’ who were biting each other…

Mother and young zebra necking, a social and bonding activiity amongst zebra. Etosha National Park, Namibia.

And on our way to lunch we encountered a group of Black-backed jackals who were seeking shade to rest up and cool down. This wash with a small cliff was right near the road and our vehicle and it was perfect position to watch and photograph. I waited for this one to finally relax and put its head down, to tell the story of resting in whatever shade they could find. It’s eyes are open slightly, because it was still watchful, but it’s head is tucked into the edge of the wash in a way that tells the story. 

It’s interesting to watch the hierachy of the animals as they visit the water holes. An oryx trumps zebra – if it decides to charge them. But then again, maybe it’s a lion outside the frame that trumps them all? not in this case, but that would have done it – they would all scatter. 

In the end, I made a lot of single-image stories on this past trip and I am really looking forward to our journey this September into both Etosha again, as we’ll be finishing off our Caprivi Strip & Botswana Photo Safari with a visit to eastern Etosha. There are going to be many more stories to be told on this entire journey!

Thanks for visiting,
 

 

Brenda Tharp
Brenda is an award-winning photographer, author, keynote speaker, workshop instructor and tour leader. Her acclaimed books include Creative Nature and Outdoor Photography, and Extraordinary Everyday Photography.
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2 Comments

  1. Wendy April 16, 2017 at 10:36 am #

    Great shots! I am looking forward to telling more stories with you in September!

    • Brenda Tharp April 16, 2017 at 11:28 am #

      Thanks, Wendy – yes! it will be great.

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