Kleine Namutoni & Dik-Dik Drive
This waterhole`s name is Afrikaans for ‘small Namutoni’, a comparison between this site and the larger King Nehale waterhole at nearby Namutoni Restcamp. The artesian spring here forms a large vegetation-free lake which is very popular with the local animal population, particularly elephants and giraffe, and being so close to the Park’s Von Lindequist Gate, it can get busy with human visitors too. It is often the first stop with people on their way in, or briefly checked when en route to exit the park before the gates close at sundown. The light here is especially good late in the afternoon.
The water here seemed to be quite deep anytime I`ve visited which enabled the elephants to enjoy a decent bath. One youngster in particular was having so much fun that he refused to budge when the herd finally moved off. The dust baths can be spectacular too.
The topmost Grey Lourie on this dead tree is definitely having a bad hair day!
The tall trees at the rear of the site have resident Lappet-faced and White-Backed Vultures which more often than not can be seen close to the water`s edge, sometimes even bathing. Raptors including Tawny and Martial Eagles prey on the large numbers of the ever-present Helmeted-Guineafowl and Francolins and a selection of lapwings, larks and smaller species can always be seen foraging among the stones and animal droppings.
A very chilled-out lion!
The most numerous antelope species in the Park by far is the Springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis) which can be encountered anywhere, sometimes in huge herds numbering several thousand animals. They are strikingly coloured and instantly recognisable with a cinnamon coloured upper body, white underparts and a broad dark brown stripe on either flank stretching from the front legs to the rear legs. They have dark brown cheek flashes and their short white tail has a brown tuft. The horns of ewes are more slender and shorter than those of rams. This is a youngster.
At the end of September on my last visit to Etosha I witnessed male Giraffes battling with one another at the Kleine Namutoni waterhole. Even though the giraffe is the worlds tallest animal and very powerful, it is, by mammal standards, remarkably peaceful and uninterested in controlling territory against rivals. Even aggression between adult bulls is limited to mostly harmless `necking` displays` although these can very occasionally result in serious injury or on rare occasions death.
Each animal will take turns at swinging its head back then striking the other with full force on the neck, body or upper legs. Rather than being real fights, this behaviour measures strength and fitness against an opponent`s and once the weaker individual concedes, the combatants will usually engage in some friendly interaction and mutual grooming.
These contests are fascinating to watch, especially at close quarters.
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I`ve found this location to be one of the best locations in the Park for waterbirds during the dry season: Maribou Storks, Little Grebes, Egyptian Geese etc.
Despite three separate holiday visits to Etosha, I`ve never seen many reptiles, just a single snake and a handful of small to medium-sized lizards, apart from a big Monitor Lizard strolling past our chalet at Dolomite Camp in 2015.
The guy on the left guy was draped over a boulder beside the parking area at Kleine Namutoni on my last visit but ducked into cover just as I was levelling my camera.
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The diminutive Damara Dik-Dik is Namibia`s smallest antelope species. The beautiful little animals are common in Etosha and so frail looking that it`s a wonder that they can survive at all in such a predator-rich environment.
They favour habitats that provide cover such as a mixture of scrub and grassland, primarily relying on camouflage for protection, however, they will quite happily pose for a photo or wander past cars that have pulled in at the roadside.
The aptly named Dik-Dik Drive, accessed from the Klein Namutoni waterhole, is one of the best places in the park to see them and these shots were all taken there. Leopard also frequent this area and are often spotted on the hunt or relaxing like this guy, sprawled along the branches of a tall tree.
Leopards` favourite prey is Springbok but they will also take Impala, Dik-Dik and on occasion Steenbok. Lions and Hyenas will steal prey from them, taking advantage of their solitary behaviour. Because of this, Leopards will try to drag their prey high into the branches of a tree as soon as possible to more readily protect it from these scavengers.