Bongo Antelope

The Bongo is one of the largest antelopes in the dense African forest.  They have been called "shy", but I believe they simply exhibit an extremely acute survivalist instinct.  They run for cover immediately when they sense danger or any other animal around.

When spotted, they are easy to identify by their size, as well as their deep chestnut coloring with long white stripes that extend from side to side across their back.  In the photos, you will also note that they have distinctive white marks along the side of their face, on their ears and neck.   Their legs also have dashes of white markings.  The alternating white and reddish brown coloring make an excellent camouflage in the rainforest.

Take a moment to really look at the Bongo.  They are really quite beautiful!

This Bongo was kind enough to show off her white markings! 
Note the white lines on the side of her face, on her ears, and on her neck. 

 Facts about the Bongo

  • Near Threatened status
  • Up to 8.25 ft
  • Weights up to 485 lbs.
  • Life span:  20 years
  • Both Males & Females have horns
  • Shorter legs than other antelopes
  • Spiral horns 
  • Horn length up to 39" with one twist
  • Herbivores - They eat plants, fruits, grass, leaves, thistles, flowers and twigs 
  • Run in small herds of couples.  Normally, the herd will contain an equal mix of sexes 
  • Region:  West Africa, northern Kenya, southern Sudan and the Congo

Their lyre shaped horns are one of their most interesting features.  As mentioned in the facts above, their horns are spiral shaped with one twist, which you can see in the introduction photo.  Bongos use their horns to pull and break branches for easier access to their desired food.  They run with their heads thrown back so their horns are against their necks to keep from getting tangled in the surrounding vegetation. 

Not only must they fear carnivores in their natural habitat, they are also hunted for their meat.  Sadly, big game hunters will also track and kill these beautiful antelopes.  All of these factors contribute to their "near threatened" status.


Hippopotamus Facts and Photos
I caught this couple of hippos lazing around basking in the sun one cool March afternoon.  Normally, they prefer to stay in the water.

I admit, I am fascinated by the hippopotamus.  Such a large creature supported on tiny, short legs.  Plus, they only eat grass and plant food, yet they are enormous in size.

Because a hippo can stay underwater for up to 30 minutes, you might not even realize one is beneath the surface of the water.

Hippopotamus Facts

Most often we see the hippopotamus peeking just above the surface of the water, like the one shown below.  It might appear to be a sinister act, but in fact that is simply their way of staying cool.  The water also allows them to take the weight off of their little legs.

Facts about Hippopotamus

Like many wild animals, hippopotamus are territorial.  The males will defend their area from other males.  This is a natural survival instinct for the hippo.  Because they claim territories along river banks near reeds or grasslands, their territory is also their source of food.

Also like many wild animals, the female hippo is extremely protective of her babies.  She will attack anything that gets near them. 

Because of their territorial, defensive traits, coupled with their size, some consider hippos to be among the most dangerous of all African mammals.  They have no desire to eat meat, but they will bite intruders to death.  

Hippos are not going to be hunting you, so it really is best to just leave them alone.  My photos may be clear and appear up close, but I use a long range camera lens to photograph hippos and other dangerous creatures.

  • Size:  6 to 16.5 feet
  • Weight:  2000 lbs - 9,900 lbs
  • Life Expectancy:  Up to 40 years
  • Food:  Grass and low growing plants
  • The eat in the cooler parts of the day, usually at dusk
  • Babies:  Usually only one at a time, every 3 or 4 years
  • Habitat:  Deep Water near grasslands or reeds
  • Region:  Sub-Sahara, Africa

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Snow Leopards

Snow Leopard
Snow Leopards are quite beautiful with their snowy, soft fur.  Their name "leopard" easily describes the pattern on their fur and "snow" instantly reveals the color.  Although, most of them do have a touch of off-white, tan or yellow highlighting in their coat.

As you can see, the gorgeous Snow Leopard that allowed me to photograph him has that yellow highlighting in his face and chest area.  His back and sides are white with a hint of grey.

That fabulous coat is actually responsible for this big cats demise.  Mortal vanity and the desire to "wear" his coat often costs his life when a snow leopard encounters a human. 

Snow Leopard - Amazing Wild Animals

Facts About the Snow Leopard

In the wild, you will only find the a Snow Leopard in the Himalayan Mountains of Central Asia.  Most likely, our best chance to see one is in an accredited zoo.  There are approximately 250 in American zoos and 600 in zoos worldwide.  Estimates for how many Snow Leopards are still living in the wild, vary drastically.  But, it would be safe to say that there are less than 8000.  Unfortunately, their decreasing numbers make their coats even more valuable.  However, it is illegal to own or sell a Snow Leopard coat.  Personally, I always wonder why anyone would want the real fur when faux furs are just as beautiful, just as warm, a lot less expensive and a life is not lost to feed a vanity.

  • Endangered
  • Approximately 3½ - 4' long
  • Weight:  55 - 165 lbs  
  • Thick Coat for Extreme Cold Climate
  • Carnivore
  • Snow Leopards Do Not Roar (they do growl and howl)
  • Snow Leopards Do Not Attack Humans (only 2 incidents ever reported)
  • Hides in Caves & Mountain Crevices
  • Life Expectancy:  In the Wild - up to 18 years & In Captivity - up to 25 years
  • Region:  Range Mountains of Central Asia

Snow Leopard Photo by Sylvestermouse


Bring Home a Snow Leopard

Nile Crocodile

The Nile Crocodile is not an animal that is considered very pretty.  Nor is he friendly or one we wish to pet.  It is actually best to stay far, far away from a Nile Crocodile.  However, he is still amazing, so let's talk about him!  We can't get hurt just talking and looking at pictures, right?

Nile Crocodile

I couldn't help but think when I uploaded this image, what a beautiful mosaic tail he has!  Best to keep in mind though, that tail is attached to a very deadly beast.

The Nile Crocodile
Take a Real Close Look at this Nile Crocodiles Head. 
I assure you, he is quite alive.  He is simply stealthily waiting.
The leaf doesn't even bother him.
If you look real close, you can see his teeth and his nostrils.

Facts About the Nile Crocodile

Nile Crocodiles have thick, scaly skin that is quite effective at thwarting potential predators.  However, they are themselves, killing machines.  Because they have a unique respiratory system that allows them to stay undetected underwater for up to 5 hours at a time, you could literally be in their territory for hours without ever knowing they are present.
Just looking at him, you might think he would sink fast due to weight, or swim slow simply due to his massive size.  However, neither is true. 

He swims fast with a terrifying turn of speed that belies his enormous size.
Nile Crocodile photo by Sylvestermouse
  • Cold Blooded Reptile
  • Carnivorous
  • Powerful Jaws
  • Powerful Tail
  • Length:  Up to 20 feet
  • Weight:  Up to 1600 lbs - Average 500 lbs
  • Swimming Speed:  20 - 22 mph
  • Land Running Speed - 7 - 9 mph 
  • Have 64 - 68 teeth
  • Broken teeth regenerate (grow back)
  • Females are smaller than males
  • Food:  Fish, Water Birds & any land Mammal
  • Usually inhabits rivers or marshland, but can also live in saltwater 
  • Live in "families" with the largest being the patriarch
  • Lay up to 100 eggs in a nest
  • Life Span:  Average 45 Years, but can live up to 100 years
  • Region:  Parts of Africa & Madagascar
  • Note:  While Nile Crocodiles are mostly found in Africa, recently several have been captured in Southern Florida in the United States

The Nile Crocodile
I feel sorry for whatever prey is lying in that tall grass!

These predators are massive beasts!  This one looks like he has a full belly.  I assure you, these photos were all taken with a high power zoom lens.  I have no desire to get close enough to this creature to wake him up.  As it was, I felt like he was watching me regardless.

It should be noted that Nile Crocodiles are patient and shrewd.  They might wait weeks to strike, allowing a large mammal to get used to coming to the same spot to drink water.

They can, and do, eat humans.

Nile Crocodile

West African Crowned Crane

West African Crowned Crane Face
West African Crowned Crane - Balearica pavonina
The coloring on animals is always so fascinating!  Take a close look at the face on this West African Crowned Crane.  The pinkest red patch on his face is the perfect accent to set off his lovely eyes.  His head is topped with a golden crown of feathers.

The golden crown is even more stunning when you see the lush grey feathers covering his body.  Such perfection looks painted, yet this photo is untouched.

The stand of the crown, the color of the eyes and the lay of his feathers are exactly as God created him.

West African Crowned Crane

West African Crowned Cranes

Like all cranes, the West African Crowned Crane has the long slender neck that makes them so easy to classify as cranes.  However, he stands apart from other cranes in one very distinct way.  He is the only crane can roost in trees. 
West African Crowned Cranes 
More Facts About the West African Crowned Crane

  • Also known as Black-crowned Crane
  • Height:  32" - 36" 
  • Weight:  Approx. 8 lbs
  • Diet:  Plants, Insects, Rice, Grain, Reptiles & Fish
  • Lifespan:  20 yrs. in the wild - 60 yrs in captivity
  • Mate for Life
    (if successful in breeding.  The will change mates if no babies are born after the first breeding season together)
  • Region:  West Africa  - Specifically in the marshy areas.  Along the shores of lakes & ponds.
  • National Bird of Nigeria
  • Status:  Vulnerable
Like so many animals today, the West African Crowned Crane is on the endangered species list.  In addition to the natural threats of predators like snakes and birds of prey, the encroachment of humans into their habitat and pollution of their water has played a large part in their decreased population.  Sadly for the Black-crowned crane, they are at even greater risk because they are captured and sold to bird collectors.

The Okapi is Quite Unique!

The Okapi is Quite Unique
The Okapi is an animal you might easily walk past without giving him much thought.  They are quiet and sedate.   Frankly, the coloring doesn't make them stand out either.   However, next time you are at a zoo, stop and consider the Okapi.  He is a very unique creature.

The Okapi is related to the giraffe, but has stripes like a zebra.  They are also closer in size to the zebra, but they share other unique characteristics with the giraffe.  

You will want to make sure you visit the Okapi soon.  Sadly, the Okapi are very rare and are endangered.  They can only be found in the wild in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa.  Therefore, your very best chance to see an Okapi, is at a zoo.  Even then, not every zoo has them.

The Okapi's Ossicone

Giraffes and Okapis are the only animals that have ossicones.  At first glance, you would think the Okapi has horns.  He does not.  Male Okapi have ossicones on their heads.  When you visit the Okapi, be sure to take a really close look at his head.  You will notice that the ossicones are covered with skin and fur.  That is completely different from horns, which are bare bone.  What will not be as obvious in observation, is that the ossicone is made of flexible cartilage, not hard bone.  This characteristic alone makes the Okapi quite unique.

The Okapi

Facts About the Okapi

  • Okapia johnstoni
  • Endangered
  • Lives in the Rainforest of the African Congo
  • Stripes on Hind Quarters and Legs
  • Males have Ossicones (not horns)
  • Females do not have ossicones.  They have little swirls of hair instead
  • Females are Larger than Males
  • Weighs 400 - 750 lbs. 
  • Stand approximate 5' tall
  • Coat is Dark Brown with Reddish hues
  • Habitat:  Dense Tropical Forest
  • Food:  Leaves, Twigs and Fruit
  • Breeding:  Single Offspring Birth
  • Okapi hide their young 
  • Lifespan:  30 years
  • Okapi were not known to science until 1900


Not Long Enough

Most likely due to their natural seclusion and avoidance of danger, the Okapi were not known to science until 1900.  It is estimated that there are 10,000 - 20,000 Okapi worldwide.  As with so many other beautiful creatures, the Okapi is now on the endangered list due to being hunted for their meat and skins. 

Fishing Cat
The Fishing Cat may resemble a domestic cat at first glance, but he is a wild cat found near the lakes and swamp areas of South-east Asia and Southern India.  He thrives in the marshy thickets and coastal creeks where food is readily available.

He is called a Fishing Cat because he is remarkably skilled at fishing.  The Fishing Cat lightly taps the water surface mimicking an insect.  The fish underwater thinks he is about to dine on a fabulous feast, when in fact, he is about to become a fabulous feast for the Fishing Cat.

Note how he concentrates so fully on his prey in the photo.  He is watching it's movement and patiently waiting for just the right moment.

If you look closely at the photo, you will see the ripples in the water and his raised paw where he has just lightly tipped the surface.  Unfortunately, when he heard the sound of my camera shutter, he took off like, well, a wild cat!  I do hate that I cost him his meal.  But, I am ever so grateful for these lovely photos.

Facts About the Fishing Cat

  • Size:  larger than a domestic cat at 30 - 45" body length, height - 16"
  • Weight:  17 to 34 pounds
  • Muscular build 
  • Front paws are partially webbed
  • Diet includes fish, snails, snakes, small mammals and birds
  • Extraordinary swimmer, even underwater
  • Uses tail as a rudder to control swimming direction
  • Layers of fur with short dense fur close to skin that insulates his body.  Even water cannot penetrate his fur
  • Primarily nocturnal  
  • Life Expectancy:  Up to 12 years
  • Vulnerable Status

How the Fishing Cat Fishes

Not only does the Fishing Cat draw his prey to the surface so he can scoop the fish from the water, but he will also dive for his dinner.  If he wants a floating bird, he will dive, swim under the resting fowl, and come up from underneath to capture his prey.

Fishing Cat Video - Mother & Kitten 

Because I did not capture a full body photo of the Fishing Cat, I sought out a video so you could see the how gorgeous this wild cat really is.  I immediately fell in love with this kitten.