The Kgalagadi National Park is truly unique in so many ways. At first glance the rugged dunes and huge expanse look harsh and incapable of providing sanctuary to the wide range of species that it does. When you look deeper however, you see it is bursting with life that has adapted beautifully to thrive in this environment.
Nothing compares to a Kgalagadi sunrise, the deep rich reds and oranges that almost set the silhouetted trees alight can be found nowhere else in the world. The iconic red dunes with their few pioneer grasses waving gently in the morning breeze provides the perfect backdrop for gemsbok to practice their fighting skills. Like the dunes they live in, Kgalagadi gemsbok are truly striking. Their black and white masks and perfectly formed horns are as much a symbol of the Kgalagadi as the dunes. We filmed these gemsbok during a week long shoot in 2010 with Gus and Margie Mills following their cheetah project.
Early mornings provided the perfect backdrop to film gemsbok males play fighting. The dune sand producing a dusty haze as it’s kicked up, giving the picture a mysterious and soft feel. The frantic chatter of ground squirrels is the only noise that breaks the rhythmic soft knocking of sparring gemsbok horns. A family of squirrels leaves the safety of their den to groom in the morning sun. Only the appearance of an injured lion gives away the reality that this paradise has a harsher side. The male clearly lost a fight with a porcupine and now bears the scars, with quills protruding from his face, abdomen and paws. Painfully thin, the male slowly makes his way up a deserted due. Unable to hunt, his fate is sealed and the circle of life which perhaps is more obvious here than in any of the other National Parks continues to revolve.
© This video belongs to the Southern African Natural History Unit.