Hal Brindley

The Diversity Of Life In The Kalahari

Welcome back to our Earth Day Series focusing on the most inspiring locations across the globe. This week’s edition needs little introduction. Reaching out to wildlife photographer Hal Brindley I was curious to know what the concept of Earth Day meant to him.

His extensive catalogue of photography from Africa’s most remote corners serves to highlight the beauty of those species with which we share our planet, but is the goal of preserving this diversity achievable?

What is it going to take to inspire our consumer driven consciousness to care about each and every animal that walks our earth?

Earth Day in Focus – Life in the Kalahari

Planet Earth is just a big ball of rock with a lot of elements swirling around on it and it’s not going anywhere, no matter what humans may do. Mountains and oceans are beautiful, but they are just stone and water.

Earth Day is about something much more precious and rare in the universe: life. Living things.

Life In The Kalahari  giraffe-botswana
It’s a long way down to pick up a seed pod when you’re the tallest animal on the planet

All eight million species of plants and animals and single-celled what-nots that surround us and live inside us and occupy every corner of this globe.

We don’t seek to protect habitats and environments for their own sake. Our goal is to protect a life-support system, one that can maintain this incredibly diverse family of living things.

Life in the Kalahari meerkat-babies
Spending time with a troop of habituated meerkats – one of the highlights of a visit to the Makgadikgadi Pans

Personally, I think animals are the most incredible branch on our family of life.

They are so mind-boggling complex that it is astonishing we exist at all. And even more so that all our billions of parts could ever work together as a functioning system that allow us to walk and talk and think and fly through the skies and swim in the seas and eat and sleep and reproduce and to do all the things we animals do.

life in the kalahari sprinboks-pans
The beautiful and graceful Springbok is one of the most common grazers in the savannas of the Kalahari

Of all animals, I have a soft spot for the mammals, and there’s no better place in the world for mammal watching than southern Africa. Jumbo-sized creatures abound and many are diurnal, which allows us to see dozens of species every day, and to photograph them in natural light in their natural surroundings.

If you chopped off every piece of land within 300 miles of the ocean in Southern Africa, what you’d have left is Botswana. It lies smack in the centre and has one of the lowest human population densities of any country. This translates into some of Africa’s wildest spaces.

life in the kalahari kubu-island
Kubu is an island of rock covered with huge baobab trees, surrounded by the salt pans of the Makgadikgadi

Botswana is packed with geographical oddities that are so immense you can see them from space.

There is the Okavango Delta (one of the world’s largest inland delta systems), the Makgadikgadi Pans (Earth’s largest collection of salt flats), and the Kalahari Desert (often considered the largest continuous body of sand in the world.)

Travelling by mokoro (dugout canoe) across the Okavango Delta

The Kalahari covers 70% of Botswana. It is technically a semi-desert thanks to slightly elevated annual rainfall levels compared to neighboring true-deserts like the Namib.

Most of the Kalahari is savanna: grasslands that flourish with the seasonal rains. These grasses support an impressive array of grazers, which in turn support a stunning cast of predators. Undoubtedly it is these predators which give Botswana its magical draw.

life in the kalahari lion-botswana
Large predators abound in Botswana, but the Kalahari Lion is undoubtedly one of the most magnificent

There is nothing quite like the sensation of knowing there are large predators around, to allow you to feel your place within the food chain.

It forces us to remember that we don’t reign supreme on this planet. It is only our technological advances that have given us the edge. But wandering amongst the creatures of Africa’s savannas, we feel a sense of humility.

life in the kalahari honey-badger
A Honey Badgers searches for a meal at sunset in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana

We remember how slow we are, how useless our claws and teeth are for protection or hunting, what poor climbers and diggers we are. It becomes a wonder that we ever made it out here at all.

I really like that feeling.

Scavengers like Black-backed Jackals and White-backed Vultures play an essential role in Botswana’s ecosystems

Yet we persist in ever more abundant numbers.

All living things are experiencing the impact of our expansion. We could go on like this, unwittingly decreasing the diversity of living things that surround us. Or we could make an effort to consider the rest of our family when we make our little daily decisions.

The Kalahari Tent Tortoise is one of the smallest tortoise species in the world and is endemic to the Kalahari

People will only care about Earth Day if they care about what it seeks to protect: living things of all kinds.

That is why my photography, and blog Travel For Wildlife  focuses on the diversity of life on this planet. If we care about these creatures, we will care about what they need to survive: the systems and resources that keep them alive.

If you care, you can and will make a difference, every day.

✈ ✈ ✈

Are you motivated to protect living things of all kind? Share your comments with me below.

  1. Oh wow what incredible photos Hal. You’ve got a new fan in me for sure! I think we should all care about the creatures 365 days of the year not just on Earth Day because without us some will cease to exist one day.

  2. Wow Hal, these photos are out of this world. I really want to go to Botswana. I’ve explored Zimbabwe (where my parents are from) but really want to get back and see more of Africa. Botswana seems like the place to go. Happy Earth Day!

    1. Thanks so much Carmen. That’s very cool you’ve been around Zimbabwe. We saw a very small piece of it on one of our journeys. But there’s so much to see in Southern Africa! Can’t wait to get back again. I hope you make it there soon!

    1. Hi Roxanne, thanks for checking out the pics! The giraffe was a lucky break as we ran into a semi-wild individual that was well habituated to humans in southern Botswana. Otherwise I wouldn’t be holding my camera directly next to the foot of a giraffe! I got some crazy shots of this guy and we had a lot of fun together.

  3. WOW. Incredible shots of the meerkats. I saw a documentary about them a few months ago and I think they are fascinating animals. My cousin has been on a trip through South Africa, Botswana and Zambia and she LOVED it. I saw her pictures and I was convinced that I would have to go one day too. Great post, thanks for sharing and thanks for caring about the environment!

  4. Those photos are absolutely magical! The mood is captured perfectly in each one. I love the one of the lion! They’re all brilliant. I would love to see these fascinating creatures in the wild someday.

  5. Wow.
    Stunning photos.
    There’s indeed much diversity and it’s all amazing.
    And wise words. To us who belong to the crazy Western world, a trip like this can inspire very deep thoughts and reflections!
    It must be awesome to be there…

  6. All these photos are just breathtaking. Nature is simply amazing and we humans need to work our 100% to take care of it. Hal’s photos are absolutely stunning, this is the kind of wildlife photos I dream of taking!

  7. These photos are INCREDIBLE! I love every one of them, although the giraffe is my favourite if I had to pick. Great piece- I can’t wait to get to Africa to see these creatures in their natural habitat for myself.

  8. These photos are really out of this world! I love the giraffe photo. Southern Africa is a dream for me to visit and explore. I’d love to camp and go on safaris to see the beautiful wildlife and nature as this.

    1. Thanks Margherita! Yep, the giraffe pics were a special moment for me. And you definitely should visit the Kalahari! The southern Kalahari is our favorite, in the beautiful red sand dunes…

  9. Love this series! Definitely agree–as a whole, we all need to think more about how our actions impact the rest of the planet and be more conscience of our actions. Absolutely stunning photos–especially the giraffe!!

  10. I love your photos! How on earth did you get so close to the giraffe?! Beautiful. We all need to work much harder to promote the protection of amazing life such as these animals – it scares me to think about what may happen if we don’t.

    1. Hi Petra, the giraffe was semi-tame having been orphaned and cared for by staff at the Kalahari Rest Lodge in Botswana. Although he lived in the wild, he would still follow people around and beg for food. (apparently he liked apples.) I can’t say I really approve of this kind of taming but it was a rare opportunity to be able to hang out with him. Thanks for reading!

  11. Simply stunning photography Hal. I also like your thinking and totally agree with it, protecting the systems and resources is very important in order to keep alive their creatures.

  12. Some great photos. I spent a few years in Zambia as a kid and explored parts of Zimbabwe and Botswana along the way. I was 10 feet from a couple of white rhinos in Matopos National Park, each of us staring at each other. Nature is amazing and it is a travesty what humankind is doing to it. I don’t know if you can still find white rhinos anywhere north of South Africa…
    Nice message to your blog.
    Frank (bbqboy)

  13. Awesome photos!! Really like the point of view of the giraffe! Thank you for promoting awareness of the importance of these animals.

  14. Sensational photos! I lived in Zambia a couple of years as a kid and was lucky enough to visit some national parks and see a lot of wildlife (and beauty – most people don’t think there’s much beauty in Africa but there’s lots). Botswana however is a place I’ve never been and that intrigues me.
    Superb, the giraffe photo is particular is amazing.
    Frank (bbqboy)

    1. My memory going on me because I see that I commented on this post a couple of months ago. The good thing about that is that I was as impressed seeing the post the 2nd time around as I was the 1st 🙂

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