It’s drizzling in north-eastern South Africa. I can see the droplets hit the edge of the watering hole, sending tiny ripples across the surface. Suddenly I hear the loud call of an exotic bird and it jars me. Reflexively, I jump in my seat.
Nearby a large bull elephant drinks his fill with slow, languid movements. He rolls his trunk in towards his face and with his head lifted, tilts it back and releases the liquid into his mouth. His tusks, evenly spaced, large and of equal length, remind me of a forklift and I hear that mechanical hydraulic sound in my head.
Two seconds later three giraffe are eating leaves from a treetop in Kenya. Their bottom halves hidden by the leaves and they look like one creature sprouting three heads.
At 9am ET, I hook up with ranger Scott in the Sabi Sands area of South Africa. He’s in the jeep and in front of us there is a zebra in the tall grass. He tells us that we’re going to check out a family of warthog. Surprisingly, when the vehicle stops they don’t run away—in my limited experience they rarely hang around. I can see two piglets and Scott tells us that they will stay with their mother for two seasons before going off on their own.
Apparently, Scott was away because the twitter feed next to the screen is going wild with welcome back messages. He explains that he was in Cape Town on a break. As we drive, we come upon a herd of gorgeous antelope called Nyala. One male is very big and has a magnificent set of horns. One of the over 1200 people watching the video asks on Twitter about the animal’s markings. Scott explains the vertical stripes along its side help to camouflage the Nyala while in the dense brush of the South African Bush, and when the antelope walks into a thicket, I understand what he means.
Welcome to African Live Cams.
A friend tweeted to me about one the other day and now I can’t stop watching. I had no idea there were so many. Most are stationary cameras in high-activity areas, usually around watering holes or rivers, that take advantage of opportunistic sightings. Another invites you to join a hosted game drive twice a day.
Be advised, it’s live and it’s the bush, which means it’s hit and miss, but in the last couple days I’ve seen a lot. Don’t be surprised if you experience “technical difficulties” along the way. As you can imagine, it can’t be easy to get a signal from out there.
I haven’t explored a lot of the African web cams to date, but here are the ones I really like so far.
The social media head at Francesca Fine Jewelry (@ffjewelry) told me about this and is personally responsible for the genesis of my addiction. Live around the clock, the camera zooms in and pans a watering hole popular with elephants in the Tembe Elephant Park in Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa. According to the website, the elephants there are the largest in the world.
Elecam.org also offers crystal-clear audio, so even if I’m not looking at the webpage, the sounds of the bush still float through my apartment. And believe me, there is a lot to hear. In the evenings, the site uses night vision technology and you’ll be amazed at how much you can see.
This morning I saw elephants, impala and giraffe, and heard tons of bird calls. At one point I think a predator was nearby because I could hear the familiar Impala alarm—half grunt, half sneeze—blowing up my speakers. When I looked, a small herd was running for the treeline. I couldn’t see what spooked them unfortunately.
Twice a day (9am – 12pm and 11pm – 2am ET), one of a variety of rangers from the Djuma Private Game Reserve and the Arathusa Safari Lodge in the Sabi Sands region of South Africa, take turns taking viewers on a game drive through the concession. The guides talk about what they’re seeing, provide great wildlife information, and answer questions submitted in real-time on Twitter. If you want to join the fun, you can ask questions via the @Wildearth Twitter feed and use the hashtag #SafariLive.
In the first hour we saw warthog, a small herd of nyala, zebra, giraffe, hyena, and a very large golden orb spider in a web chilling with her teeny-tiny orb spider husband.
Explore.org offers variety of live cams feeds from all over the world, including wildlife in Kenya, hummingbirds in California, a chipmunk log in Colorado, a polar bear habitat at a Netherland’s zoo, a coral reef off of Grand Cayman island, and a whole lot more. The feeds are in grid form and the site indicates which cams are broadcasting and which are not. The African Animal Lookout (positioned next to a river) and African Watering Hole cameras are in central Kenya. Recently, I saw elephants playing in a river, a lot of giraffe, hippo and a huge heard of impala. If you want to take a quick screen grab of your sighting and share it, it’s easy with the handy-dandy camera icon in the upper right hand corner of the viewer. If nothing is going on at any of the cams, there are plenty of highlight clips you can view while you wait. This site also provides night viewing but it’s not as clear as Elecam.org.
Are there are live cams you love to watch? If so, please tell me about them in the comments section.