This white rhino bull was intent on separating a cow from her young calf, and trying to mate with her. The mother was having none of his nonsense, and kept rebuffing him. He was bearing quite a few new gouges on his head, from her horn, as a result of her chasing him off.
In the photo you can see he is advancing on the calf, but the brave little calf quickly realised this was unwise and galloped back to its mother’s side. When the mother and her calf went to have a drink at the pan, he decided to try and get to her by splashing straight through the water. She and the calf quickly retreated, and after quite some time of this losing battle the rhino bull became so frustrated that it chased an African buffalo that was standing nearby, and managed to almost toss him through the air.
A territorial white rhino male usually mates at about 12 years old. Gestation for the mother is a long 16 months. A calf stays with its mother for two to three years, and a new calf is born after about a 22-month interval.
These first two ‘debt collectors’ appeared before us, and it was interesting to see how different they looked. Buffalo bulls’ hair becomes sparse with age (like that of so many men), but the bull on the right was facially bald. You could tell it was very old compared to the other that had a thick glossy coat, and lots of facial hair. His horn tips were also blunt, his boss worn smooth and his ears ragged.
We found the third bull at a waterhole, having a drink with an oxpecker. He was aged almost exactly between the first two, as can be seen by his partial balding and smoothing off of his boss and horn tips. A buffalo’s lifespan is around 15 years.
A call crackled over the radio that the tracking team had found the River Pride on a buffalo kill near Hwata Pan. “Bonanza!” I thought. Not only because this would provide good photo opportunities of lions feeding in relatively open area, and the clean-up crew of hyenas and vultures that would make no bones of the carcass over the next few days, but mainly because Hwata Pan is where we have our sunken photo hide, and the lions would have to go and drink there at some stage during the feeding frenzy. I’ve waited for 10 years to get a shot of a predator drinking at eye level to me from this hide – could this be the chance at last?
The Malilangwe Dam is an amazing fishing destination. The most sought out species are tigerfish and tilapia.The best times of the year for fishing is when the water is warm – a good reminder is good fishing months all have an “r” in them from September to April. That said, we have still been enjoying some great fishing now in May – all the photos in this story are from early May.
It is most satisfying watching elephants enjoying a mud bath! It starts off with the approaching walk, an elephant has when making his/her way to the water source. To describe it, I would have to say it’s an excited, exaggerated, fast walk while bobbing their heads up and down and to the sides at the same time. We call it ‘the water walk’. Even for the novice person you can pick up the excitement of the elephant looking forward to a thirst-quenching cool drink, usually followed by refreshing mud bath.
I was camped out again, on my favourite dam wall that offers a good vantage point and a relatively safe refuge from the vehicle. I was trying to tell myself that really it was an afternoon of birding – just sitting quietly with binos and a bird book and trying to ID whatever came along, and enjoying the isolation and peace. But really what I wanted and hoped and wished for was a solitary black rhino.