Water is life, without it, the human race could not exist! It makes Earth unique amongst the celestial bodies and amazingly even though our planet is covered with water, only 1% of it is potable, with 97% being salty and the remaining 2% trapped in the polar ice-caps.
Water is scarce. Yet, we take it for granted, waste it and pollute it while nearly one billion people in the developing world don't have easy access to it.
With ever increasing human populations, changing climates and the threat of looming water shortages on the horizon, we need to value every precious drop and each of us should do our utmost to save it, use it sparingly and keep it pure!
Below are a celebration of images by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick showcasing the importance and beauty that water brings to the planet.
1. Summer thunderclouds build up over the Highveld grasslands, soon to drop their precious rain that will nourish the plants that are the basis of the food chain.
2. Heavy rain pelts down on South Africa’s coastal forests, allowing massive trees to reach for the sky and supporting high levels of biodiversity.
3. A double-rainbow arches over a rocky outcrop caught in a flash of light after a thunderstorm in the Northern Drakensberg.
4. As temperatures drop during the winter months, rain turns into snow covering the Lesotho landscape in a white blanket and freezing over the highland tarns.
5. Along the arid west-coast of South Africa, rain is not a frequent visitor, but heavy coastal fog often envelopes the landscape providing life giving dew to the rich and unique floral diversity of the region.
6. Frozen grass stalks high in the Drakensberg Mountains during winter. Moisture deep within the plants has pushed to the surface, freezing to form icicles.
7. The Pholela River, which has its source high in the Southern Drakensberg, cuts a winding path through the ancient landscape and deep gorges of the mountains.
8. Reflections of the famous, towering and rocky cliffs at the Amphitheatre -Royal Natal National Park emanate from the wind-still dam that lies close to the visitor camp.
9. Dense stands of “palmiet” edge a stream in the Mkhambati Nature Reserve in the Wild Coast and act as a giant filter, removing all impurities. Wetlands, previously perceived as a waste of land are critical in ensuring clean water for the planet.
10. Water floods around the roots of giant Sycamore Fig-Trees in the Ndumo Nature Reserve. The roots of these massive trees stabilize the soil, preventing extensive damage from flooding.
11. Water seeps through a network of channels and salt marshes into the Langebaan Lagoon.
12. A small river cascades over a steep gorge in the otherwise arid Karoo and provides a splash of greenery along its banks.
13. Water that originates high in the catchment and from rain clouds flows through the Breede River estuary, depositing nutrients into the ocean that are critical to many spawning fish.
14. A Brown River Crab lies in the shallows, filtering food from nutrient rich waters.
15. A male Spreadwing suns itself on a reed stem growing along a quite backwater. The Spreadwing will search for a mate and together they will deposit their fertilized eggs into the water where the larval stage of the insect will live its life.
16. A Foam-Nest Frog walks over its recently formed nest, wherein its eggs lie hanging over water. This is an effective strategy to prevent predation and as the eggs develop into tadpoles, they will drop back into the water to complete their life cycle.
17. A young Hippo sits contentedly amongst the safety of the rest of the family pod. Hippo’s spend the daylight hours in the cooling waters and emerge at night to graze on the nutrient packed grasslands that line waterways.
18. “King” of the Jozini Dam, a 4.5m Nile Crocodile slips back into the protective waters of the dam that have been its home for several decades.
19. A Black-bellied Starling bathes and splashes repeatedly in a shallow rock pool in northern Zululand. The birds bathe to cool down from the excessive summer heat and also to keep their feathers in tip-top condition.
20. A brightly colored Malachite Kingfisher perches on a wavy reed-stem and watches the water intently below for its next meal.
21. A Purple-crested Turaco drinks deeply from a rock pool during midday heat in northern Zululand.
22. Great White Pelicans feast off spawning fishes that have been pushed into the shallows of Lake Nakuru National Park in Kenya.
23. As the summer rains dry up, water becomes scarce during the winter months and forces a wide range game species to become increasingly dependent on a limited number of water-holes. As these water-holes also begin to dry up, animals face risk of entrapment in the thick mud.
24. A Nguni bull wades deep into the water to quench his thirst and cool off, ignoring the risk of being grabbed by a crocodile in northern Zululand.
25. A young African elephant bull playfully squirts water around after having quenched his thirst at a water hole in the Addo Elephant National Park.
26. A White Rhino calf plays joyfully in the wet mud of a water hole. The calf made repeated runs into the mud, spinning around and splashing until it was entirely covered in the brown ooze.
27. With water becoming increasingly scarce, more and more boreholes are being drilled deep into the earth in the hope of tapping into sub-terrain aquifers.
28. We take the ability to turn on a tap to easily get our water for granted, while many in the developing world have little or no access to water.
29. Water is critical for our agricultural crops and for watering our domestic stock. Sadly much of this water is wasted due to bad management practices and leaking pipelines.
30. Many rural communities, not only depend on water for drinking, but also source much of their food from it.
31. Water sources are the site of many of our recreational activities, often with little regard to whether or not we are polluting these waters with oils and other dangerous substances.
32. Clean water has become so scarce in many areas that purified bottled water is a necessity. Sadly most of these plastic bottles end up as waste in our water systems or in our seas.
33. As climate change increasingly impacts our planet, droughts in certain areas of the planet will become more frequent, while flooding will become more prevalent in others.
34. Water is crucial to our well-being and the survival of this planet, we cannot afford to waste it.