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As we arrived one morning at the Chudob waterhole in Etosha (2013), we found a Kudu Bull that was trapped in the water by a large clan of Hyaenas.
It was an intense scene filled with high drama in the air as close on 18 Hyaenas dispersed in the area, were keeping a large Kudu Bull captive in the water. The Kudu bull was clearly exhausted and traumatised by the predators lurking at the waters edge. For some reason the Hyaenas would not enter the water although the Kudu seemed quite close to the edge of the waterhole at times. With it standing knee deep in the water for a long time, musscles cold and clearly frozen with fear, the Kudu was in obvious discomfort. It was constantly looking around for a possible escape route. Eventually the Kudu Bull made an attempt to get away and for a bief moment it seemed that it was going to make it. We all thought that the Kudu was home and dry, but it was now time for the next act in this harsh and yet captivating drama that nature was presenting us. One Hyaena gave chase, with some of the others following.
While most of the Hyaenas gave up the chase quickly, the chief chaser came very close to grabbing the Kudu on the inside of his legs and at this point the Kudu decided it was safer to just go back into the water. Two of the Hyaenas followed for a few meters, then turned back to shore. How could the Kudu do this, we wondered? We were all amazed at how the Kudu almost got away. With the Kudu now back in the water and behind the reeds in the middle of the waterhole we lost sight of most of him and could just make out his horns behind the reeds. It was probably another hour that passed with the Hyaenas again staying close to the edge of the water with their eyes focused on the Kudu. Some of the Hyaenas started moving away from the waterhole towards the bushes in the distance. The stage was filled with other actors in the form of Black faced Impala, Giraffe, Guineafowl and Zebra….
Nature then provided the final act of this amazing play, when a large amout of clearly very thirsty Zebras came to drink at the waterhole with the ever present Hyaenas still hanging around. Every now and then the Zebras would be spooked by the activities of the Hyaenas and would scatter from the edge of the water, just to return to drink. The other characters, except the Giraffe would also scatter to add to the unfolding drama. Their role was to nervously watch developments closely. The clearly traumatised Kudu must have also been watching these new developments with the drinking and scattering Zebras.
It was then, coinciding with one of these spooked and scattering Zebra incidents, that the Kudu instictively decided to take advantage of the confusion caused by the Zebras, and slowly appeared from behind the reeds and casually walked out of the waterhole to exit amongst the Zebras, whom at this stage was already returning to drink again. What an ingenious move and clever escape. There was lots of Guinea Fowl and Zebra noise and then it was all over with the Kudu briefly standing still on dry ground for the water to drip from his body and then casually walking away. Then almost as if nothing has happened, harmony returned to the Chudob waterhole and the stage was set for another of Natures theatre productions.
It was a truly wonderful experience to witness the scenes playing out in front of our lenses for the best part of two to three hours of intense drama. Needless to say the adrenalin was pumpimg all around with camera equipment selection, setting adjustments and capturing with short and long lenses, while there was ample verbal excitment from a fully entertained human audience.
After the shoot that lasted hours, we left the waterhole that morning phisically and mentally drained but totally satisfied and with our souls very much enriched. Personally I felt privileged and fortunate to have witnessed an amazing and spectacular play filled with amazing characters, brilliantly presented and produced by Natures Theatre…..
Please click on the images below and follow this spectacular play in still images……
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