The urban lifestyle is so far removed from the natural order of things: eat and be eaten. While some may have fruit and vegetables growing in their gardens or on their balconies, the majority of urbanites rely on supermarkets, butchers, bakeries and the like for their daily food. Meat comes wrapped in styrofoam and plastic, bread is pre-sliced in plastic bags, vegetables are ready picked and washed on the shelves – perhaps even pre-chopped / sliced / mixed all ready for roasting or stir-frying …
That is not the case in nature, where the eat and be eaten order applies.
This is what remains of a Mountain Tortoise:
A Zebra munches the dry winter grass:
What is left of a Kudu:
The grisly end of a Cape Buffalo that had been a meal for many:
This is a Warthog grazing – note the way it rests on its front knees:
They also rest on their knees when drinking:
An elephant tucks into a nutritious meal:
The very name Addo Elephant National Park conjures up images of elephants and that is what most visitors expect to see when they arrive. While it is true that on some visits we have literally seen over a hundred elephants, there have been times when we have been fortunate to see the odd one here and there – and even times when not a single elephant has made an appearance!
One has to be patient though and simply driving around the park from one water hole to another is not likely to yield the best results. Be prepared to wait and keep your mind open for other possibilities. I find that African Buffalo (Syncerus caffer) – also known as Cape Buffalo – are worth watching, whether you come across a single one or a herd.
Occasionally we have been fortunate enough to observe a buffalo encountering an elephant at a waterhole.
Or cooling off in one on its own.
These bulk grazers bear interestingly shaped horns with those of the males being characterised by a heavy boss.
Their heavy-set bodies and thick legs carry no particular markings, yet I find their faces are fascinating to observe.
With the mercury rising to 38°C and with so little left by way of grazing during this prolonged drought in the Kruger National Park, we watched with interest as two grizzled old Cape buffalo bulls (frequently referred to as dagga boys in South Africa – old bulls that have been kicked out of the herd to fend for themselves) lumbered slowly across the bare veld to the almost empty Matjulu waterhole.
The buffalo looked for all the world like two old codgers who had spent a long time together, bound by a history of shared experiences. They walked abreast at times, sometimes even bumping together as they headed for the water.
Number One was clearly the leader.
Slightly larger and more robust looking than Number Two, he carefully eased his way down the ribbed concrete sides of the waterhole and bowed his head to the water to drink.
Number Two circled the waterhole, as if looking for a safe place to enter, before he too eventually lowered his large frame into the hollow and bent down to drink.
The water was not even deep enough to cover their hooves.
They drank for a long time, quenching the thirst borne of a long walk perhaps. Number One dominated what must have been the slightly deeper end of the waterhole. When Number Two nudged his way in he was unceremoniously biffed out of the way and retreated to the shallowest part.
At last Number One had had his fill, looked up and took a measure of his surroundings whilst licking the moisture still dripping from his lips. He slowly turned to nudge his companion as if to say, “It’s your turn now” before carefully hauling his bulk out of the concrete hollow. He stood solidly on the side, waiting patiently until Number Two had also drunk his fill and was ready to get out. The two old codgers stood next to each other for a while – getting their breath back perhaps. Then, by common consent, they moved off together with Number One slightly in the lead.