An elegant Klipspringer surveys the land from the volcanic rock of Shetani Lava Flows.
This skilled ‘rock jumper’, as Klipspringer translates to from Afrikaans, has an incredible sense of balance and poise, prancing around on uneven kopjes and rock surfaces with absolute grace. Said to have the balance of a ballerina, they can stand with all hooves on a very small surface area, important when navigating all types of crevices of rocky terrain.
This one had a beautiful stillness about her as she stood stationary for some time during the last light.
This solitary and elusive Shoebill Stork lives in wetlands in very small pockets around Eastern Africa. Their stealthy movements enable them to stalk and lunge at potential meals of lungfish. Standing at up to 5ft high and with somewhat menacing looks, this bird sure can intimidate! But when personally becoming acquainted with one, as I did this one while sitting next to his bucket of fish inside his enclosure, they are incredibly gentle and endearing characters.
Although this rare bird is called a stork, genetically they have more in common with pelicans and herons. With an imposing beak that ends with a sharp hook, these ambush predators can certainly take a large chunk of fish fillet to go. They are primarily solitary birds, doing what they do best alone unless mating or caring for their young. They exude a no-fuss attitude, with their silent nature, slow and measured steps, and a powerful sense of calm.
I love all animals equally, but a soft spot has definitely been reserved for the Shoebill Stork. Classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, they are at a high risk of becoming critically endangered due to continued hunting and habitat loss.
A grey crowned crane forages for food on the plains. These elegant birds roam the savannah, nest in wetlands, and roost in trees. With white cheeks, yellow crowns tipped with black, and pale blue-grey eyes, these stunning birds have gained recognition in the political and elite rounds: they are the national bird of Uganda and are trophy pets for the Rwandan elite. Elsewhere, they roam wild, but significant habitat loss has seen populations plummet by 85% in the last 4 decades, to now a mere 30,000. While conservation efforts are underway to protect this highly revered bird, hopefully, things will change fast enough before this endangered species is wiped off the earth forever.
Another landmark win for the beautiful giants- the famous Ringling Bros circus in the U.S., after 145 years, has put an end to elephant performances. Things are moving in the right direction. Change can and does happen.