The elephant’s teeth

A small baby elephant crosses the road, chewing on a stick. Maybe his teeth are coming through? Actually, elephants are born with four small molars, which they will lose when they are about two years old. Unlike humans, who have milk teeth first and then change to their final set of teeth, elephants change their teeth troughout live. A long-living elephant goes through six sets of molars that replace the teeth that become worn out by chewing grasses and trees. The loss of their final set of teeth is a major cause of death among aged elephants.

Young cheetah

A young cheetah looks back over its shoulder. Cheetahs are weaned at the age of six months, but usually stay with their mother for some time after that. After 17 to 20 months, the mother can have another litter, so that often marks the end of the time of the youngster with the mother. Although young cheetahs from as young as six months go after hares or young antilopes, they often are only able to bring down a kill on their own when they’re 15 months or older. The odds for cheetah cubs to survive into adulthood are not so good. Lions are major predators of juveniles. This particular young cheetah was left to fend for itself for just one day when it was killed by predators…

The unpopular jackal

For the farming community in South Africa, jackals are a costly nuisance, as they kill sheep that are an important agricultural livestock. For a long time, bounties were paid for every hunted jackal. However, whether this really helped to keep the population in check is unclear. According to some, killing a jackal does no more than giving space to two or more jackals who will fight for the territory, and kill even more sheep in the process. I’m not a farmer, and for me seeing a jackal or hearing it in the night is an exciting event. Taking photos of the jackals in my neighborhood has so far been unsuccesful, so here is one from Pilanesberg National Park.

King protea

The king protea has the largest flower of the protea family, and is the national flower of South Africa. It grows on a woody shrub that grows between 1 and 2 meters high. The plant is adapted to the wildfires that often rage through its habitat by a thick stem that remains underground. After a fire, the shrub resproutes from that stem.
Photo taken in Van Staden’s Wild Flower Reserve.

Brown hyena marking its territory

If there’s one word for the brown hyena it must be shaggy. The brown hyena has a longer coat than the better known spotted or striped hyenas. This, however, doesn’t make it a glamorous animal. Rather, his coat looks mangy and moth eaten. Brown hyenas are mainly scavengers, crushing even the bones of carcasses that other predators leave behind. The animal in the picture is marking its territory with a white and a black paste. Research has shown that the white paste is a general boundary marker for other hyenas: this is my territory. The black paste communicates to members of the same clan that this area is already searched for food; the smell of this paste fades after a few days.
Photo taken in Pilanesberg National Park

Giraffe

Giraffes are so tall they are actually quite hard to photograph with a telelens. Glad to have gotten some landscape in there with this one!
Photo taken in Pilanesberg National Park

Maximus in black and white

Maximus is one of the big male leopards in Pilanesberg National Park. In general, male leopards are larger and more muscular than the females. They live alone, seeking the company of females only in the mating season. Male leopards are known to fight with other males who intrude in their territory. Females are less aggressive towards other leopards, and their territories are smaller.