Of Hippos and Babies

We had a grand morning on an otherwise slow viewing day at Kruger National Park. By slow, let me clarify. We saw 14 different non-bird species this day, including elephants, giraffes, white rhino, impala, kudus, baboons, vervet monkeys, crocs, blue wildebeest, and zebra. But with no sightings of lions, leopards or cheetahs… well, let’s just say one gets a bit jaded in this wildlife paradise.

I was at the small pond near the Lower Sabie area in the southern section of the park. The pond is ringed by a sandy shoreline covered with crocodiles and hippopotamuses lazing in the sun or skulking through the water.

The hippos are fun to watch when they are in the water (when they sleep on shore they look like beached whales). Although we have stopped at this pond several times, this morning a group of hippos were close to shore. Among them were this very patient mother and calf. Poor mom! The calf did not give her an instant of peace. While her neighbors snoozed, mother was constantly badgered by baby jumping on her, biting her ear and just plain being annoying.

In the following image the baby actually stood on its mother to reach such Olympian heights. I’d rate it a 9.8.

This sampling of images represents a delightful way to spend an hour, photographically speaking.

BTW, these images were taken with a Nikon D800, 200-400mm lens with 1.4 tele-extender. I shot at ISO 400, f5.6 to 6.3 and shutter speeds between 1/800 to 1/1000 second, braced on the car window ledge without a beanbag or any other support. At one point I switched to DX mode to give myself more “reach.”

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