A Look at African Wildlife With Marin Photographer Elyse Omernick

All photos by Elyse Omernick

Kalahari Desert, South Africa

To observe a giraffe in the wild is awe-inspiring. I was lucky enough to see many of them during our stay, sometimes in herds of 30 or more. I loved watching this giraffe walk along an ancient riverbed in the fog. The scene reminded me of a foggy morning in West Marin with its golden rolling hills and oak trees.

white crowned lapwing on zambian ground

White-Crowned Lapwing
Zambezi River, Zambia

The white-crowned lapwing is a fascinating bird, both in the way it looks and its behavior. The Nile crocodile in the Zambezi River actually lets these birds clean their teeth. It is a symbiotic relationship, as the crocodile gets its teeth cleaned, and the lapwing gets a meal out of it. I loved watching them carry about their day along the banks of this famous river.

cheetahs under a tree

Kalahari Desert, South Africa

As much as I was hoping to get an up-close shot of a cheetah during our visit, I really appreciated watching their behaviors from afar. These cheetahs were busy enjoying a recent kill in the late afternoon, underneath the shade of a large tree.

several african springboks in grasses

Kalahari Desert, South Africa

Springbok are an important part of Southern Africa’s ecosystem, as they are a food source for many predators. We found this herd grazing in a dried-out riverbed. While it is always exciting to take pictures of predator animals, I find that taking pictures of the prey animals is equally rewarding.

close up of hippos in the water

Zambezi River, Zambia

To be on the Zambezi River just above Victoria Falls is a treat in and of itself, but to experience it with hippos floating in the water is mind-blowing. These giants are strictly herbivores, and while they look adorable, they are fierce guards of their territory and their families. We enjoyed them from a safe distance in our safari boat, with my handy 600 mm lens.

close up of white secretary bird in grasslands

Secretary Bird
Kalahari Desert, South Africa

Standing up to four feet tall, these fierce creatures hunt the grasslands by foot, searching for snakes and reptiles and are even known to hunt baby cheetah and gazelles. Sadly, they are endangered due to habitat degradation and disturbance from agriculture and cattle ranches.


Elyse Omernick is a wildlife, landscape and portrait photographer based in Marin County. If you are interested in ordering prints or booking a portrait session, please visit her website.