Animals at the Water Hole

credit: Migrated Image

Every living thing in the world needs water -- and dwindling reserves impact more than just your ability to keep your lawn green in the summer. To capture the importance of H20 across the globe, photographer Greg du Toit stationed himself at rivers, lakes, and water holes throughout Africa -- and came away with a collection of images that shows birds, lions, zebras, warthogs, and the rest of the country's wildlife population quenching their thirst. Here, we've reprinted some of his favorite images with behind-the-scenes descriptions of how he got each shot.

Lioness and Cubs

"In the months prior to this frame, the lioness and cubs had stubbornly refused to drink in the daylight hours. I had waited in my hide until dusk for them on numerous occasions, and twice, upon walking back to camp, I met all eight on foot. "It took a one week heat wave and this just two degrees south of the equator, to finally bring my subjects to the water's edge." Photo: Greg du Toit

Zebra Drinking

credit: Migrated Image

"Zebra are water-dependent animals and each day they would begin their approach in the early afternoon. "They were incredibly skittish and as soon as they were in range I initially made the mistake of tripping my shutter. The sound of which sent them running! As time passed I learnt to wait for the herd to not only reach the water's edge but to wade into the water. Once my subjects had tasted the sweet liquid and when the blissful contentment of a thirst being quenched had begun to take effect, the sound of my shutter then had little effect." Photo: Greg du Toit

Hippo Surfacing

credit: Migrated Image

"Lying on the bank of the river and playing with the manual focus of my lens, an entire world of bubbles presented itself. Waiting patiently for a hippo to surface in my frame, I hoped a crocodile was not including me in a frame of its own." Photo: Greg du Toit

Maasai Lion at the Water Hole

credit: Migrated Image

"It had been a childhood dream of mine to experience Africa as it was a hundred years ago, with animals roaming wild and free, not separated from man. I embarked on a sixteen-month project to photograph nomadic lion eking out a precarious existence on Maasai-owned community-land. "These lions were, and for good reason, shy and skittish. In order to capture them on film, I lay in the water for three months, waiting patiently until a particularly hot period infuriated the thirst of the cats. Lying in the water I contracted bilharzia and parasites from baboons but I would happily do it again." Photo: Greg du Toit

Lone Teal Swimming at Sunrise

credit: Migrated Image

"It was an especially cold morning on the highveld of South Africa. Just prior to the sun rising, the water began to steam like a giant kettle only recently gone off the boil. I had my camera set up and only seconds to spare before the sun threatened to pierce the horizon and obliterate my exposure! This lone teal swam obligingly into my view finder allowing me to capture my subject in its environment." Photo: Greg du Toit

Sunbird on a Branch

credit: Migrated Image

"It was late in the afternoon and just two degrees south of the equator, the sun was beating down more furiously than any other time of day. A fallen twig offered a welcome drinking perch to the weary and thirsty sunbirds." Photo: Greg du Toit

Traffic Jam

credit: Migrated Image

"Sitting for months in my hide, there was always some form of life attracted to the waterhole. Occasionally mammals and birds would cross paths on the banks of the catalytic body of water. I relished the opportunity to capture more than one subject in a single frame." Photo: Greg du Toit

Stork at Dawn

credit: Migrated Image

"My favourite time of year in Tanzania's Rauha National Park is September, when the Ruaha River is reduced to a trickle and isolated hippo pools inadvertently trap shoals of unsuspecting fish. "Waiting patiently in the pre-dawn light, the sound of crocodile jaws smacking the water furiously, in an attempt to snap up fish, can be heard echoing down the river. When the first rays pierce the horizon, the crocodiles simmer and yellow-billed storks begin frantically trawling for a catch of their own." Photo: Greg du Toit

The Brave Little Red-Cheeked Cordon Bleu

credit: Migrated Image

"Living in the wild bush country of southern Tanzania, an ancient grinding stone left by early inhabitants made for a perfect birdbath. "At first, the birds were wild and shy but as time progressed, friendships formed. The tiny, yet immaculate red-cheeked cordon-bleus allowed me to approach within a few feet." Photo: Greg du Toit

Bushbuck Ram

credit: Migrated Image

"Bushbuck are shy and secretive creatures. Sitting motionless in the water, I would never hear their approach. Quite often I would have my head down and when I raised it, I would to my delight, find this ram drinking mere meters away." Photo: Greg du Toit

Zebra Herd

credit: Migrated Image

"The zebra herds living on community-owned Maasai-land are far too wild and shy to photograph from a vehicle. So, I dug a hole in the ground and covered it with hessian cloth. "The herd approached tentatively and I waited for the full reflection to materialize in my viewfinder before tripping my shutter button." Photo: Greg du Toit