Last week I wrote about the anguish of the mother Hippo as she stood over the body of her young baby which had been killed and her subsequent retaliation towards other members of the pod. This sparked serious confrontation towards her by as many as 3 other Hippos at a time. I do not know what the eventual outcome was as to was the end of our CNP Safaris trip to the Chobe. I will be revisiting that area later this week when I return with another group of clients.
Today however I want to give you a good news story from the Etosha National Park, and one that could heave returned out much different if the circumstances where slightly different. One of the destinations we (CNP Safaris) visit for a few weeks a year is the Etosha National Park in Northern Namibia.
Here we don’t use the boats but we shoot from our custom build photographic vehicles which take a maximum of 3 photographers per vehicle.
This story begins one morning in July when we entered the Etosha National Park just after sunrise and proceeded to one of the waterholes in the hope of finding some cats still lying around after a night of action. Instead of Lions or a Leopard, what we found as I approached the waterhole, were a few Spotted Hyenas lying around or playing next to the road in the early morning sun rays. The youngsters were playful and inquisitive so we spent some time photographing them.
The actual waterhole was still about 60 meters further on down the road so after we got a few shots of the Hyenas, I drove on towards the waterhole. What met us was something that took a few moments to compute.
There was a fully grown Kudu bull standing up to his belly in the water, surrounded by a number of Spotted Hyenas. After positioning the vehicle in the parking area so that we could get the best light on the scene, we watched and captured the images as the drama unfolded.
Upon careful scrutinisation of the area surrounding the waterhole we counted no less than 14 Spotted Hyenas dotted around the waterhole and the trapped Kudu. Many of the Hyena were lying in the deep scrapes in the ground created by the elephants who kick the ground to get dust and dirt for their dust baths. The tactics used were akin to an ambush and from what I heard subsequently from another photographer with a similar sighting at this waterhole, a strategy this clan had engaged successfully before.
We were speculating as what options the Kudu had for a successful escape and to live another day.
Other than reaching the side and making a run for it, which was doubtful given that his muscles would be very stiff and cold from the time spent in the water, only a herd of elephants coming for a drink and scattering the agressors may save him. This would mean that it would probably be in the water for another few hours as the Elephants generally come to drink after 10am.
Without warning the Kudu bull started walking stiffly towards the edge of the water and dry land. The Hyenas saw this and a group of them started to move closer. The Kudu then tried to run around the water hole on his stiff cold legs with a few of closest Hyenas in hot pursuit. When the Kudu realised it wasn’t going to escape, after a Hyena had tried to take a bite out of its backside, the Kudu jumped back into the cold water.
Stale mate again. No Elephants around so this could be a long wait. But as luck would have it small herds of Zebras were making their way towards the waterhole and coming together in a large herd on the opposite side of the water hole and then their approach to the water as a group. After one or two half-hearted attempts to reach the water without getting spooked they gathered around the waterhole and the Kudu strode out of the water into the oncoming herd of Zebra.
One very lucky Kudu lives to tell the tale.
Join me on a CNP Safari to one of our amazing destinations.
Personal photography: www.coopernaturephotos.com