ADVENTURES IN NATURE – Part 6
This segment of my series is going to be a bit of a show-and-tell based on a trip I took to a large 260 plus acre working ranch in Lakeland, Florida – they call themselves Safari Wilderness Ranch. Various exotic species roam the grounds in areas pretty much replicating their native habitat. This will basically be some photographic highlights of the trip with a few factoids thrown in.
One of the more fascinating encounters for me was with a group of water buffalos – a species indigenous to Asia. Here is a group of them lazing about in the water:
One of them seemed rather intrigued with the photographer (me) and came charging out of the water with his tongue hanging out:
Here are a couple of up close and personal shots of one of them:
Probably one of the less exotic animals on the ranch was the very familiar llama – a species native to South America. Here are some portraits of the two I encountered. The first shot would lend itself to a creative caption – the one I used when I posted it on one of the photographic forums that I post on was: “Hey pal, can you spare some hay for a llama down on its luck?”
Of course what would a ranch be without horses, a bull and a cute baby goat? The horses are Austrian Haflingers, and the picture depicts the whole family – the father, the baby and the mother can be barely seen behind the father as she grazes.
Here is one trotting along:
This is the resident bull with his pal the cattle egret:
And as promised the cute baby goat:
One of the more intriguing animals to me was the Barbary Sheep. They are indigenous to the Rocky Mountains in Northern Africa. They are a member of the goat-antelope family. This guy seemed to be engaged in serious thought as he made eye contact with me:
Usually, I engage in a quite a bit of bird photography and I didn’t come up empty handed in that regard. Here is a very fascinating bird, which I had never encountered in the past. It’s an Abdim’s Stork indigenous to Eastern Africa:
The next two head shots are of an ostrich and a South American Rhea respectively. The ostrich does not seem to be in a great mood!
And finally a portrait of a resident black swan:
I encountered a rather fascinating African Cow – a Watusi Cow. Their horns can reach as long as 8 feet in length and are used for defense and cooling by virtue of blood-vesseled honeycombs contained within. The base of their horns is the largest of any species of horned animals:
Speaking of horns, the Swamp Deer, or Barasingha (indigenous to the Indian sub-continent) has some rather unique horns, which in the stage of development shown are rather stubby and fuzzy looking:
Here is a rather close up shot of one:
And probably the most fascinating horns of the horned animals I encountered, are those of the Greater Kudu. The Kudu is a species of antelope indigenous to Eastern and Southern Africa. They have a unique, white chevron running between their eyes:
Quite a few Water Bucks reside on the premises. They are a member of the antelope family and are native to sub-Saharan Africa. Here are two engaged in a jousting contest:
This is a portrait of a young, male Water Buck:
And this is a portrait of a female Water Buck:
A very fascinating creature is the Lemur, which is indigenous to Madagascar. Here are a couple of shots of these interesting animals. I had the joy of feeding one of them:
This guy’s glare belies his sweetness:
Another interesting encounter was with a Warthog, which is native to sub-Saharan Africa. It is so named due to 4 wart-like protrusions on the top of its head. It has two sets of tusks – the top ones are rather prominent, but they are not the sharp ones. The smaller, lower ones are razor sharp and are sharpened every time the Warthog opens and closes his mouth by virtue of the rubbing of the bottom tusks with the top ones honing the bottom ones to its razor sharpness.
The Black Buck, native to the Indian sub-continent is a rather fascinating creature. The males and females look totally different and seem to be of different species. They are considered a near-threatened species in that they are hunted for their horns and man is impinging upon their native environment. This shot depicts a family with the female in front followed by her offspring and then the male bringing up the rear:
Of course a tour of a ranch with African animals would not be complete without the obligatory Zebra shot. I liked the repeating pattern formed by these two grazing zebras.
Finally, there is a resident Giant Tortoise who seemed to want to make good eye contact with me:
I hope you have enjoyed this brief trip through this amazing ranch.