Looking out from our vehicle we had a few warthogs disappearing from the waterhole, a couple of cattle egrets foraging in the mud and in the trees we made out 5 rhino. The set was ready for an amazing real life show that we would witness for about 4 hours.
Appearing first was a couple of Impala rams, that very cautiously came through the bush aware of every noise and smell that they could detect. Their ribs were showing, which showed that the relieving rains that we had experienced 20km away had not yet reached here. Most of the trees still stand naked and there is no grass to talk of.
One animal that knows about harsh conditions is the Gemsbok or Cape Oryx. Their metabolism is so well adapted for the conservation of water that they are actual classed as being water independent. A beautiful bull graced the stage in front of us and waded into the mud to get to the clearer, deeper water to quench his thirst and to cool off from what was now a midday sun and a temperature of over 40C.
A whirlwind headed straight towards the waterhole – the swirling wind lifted dust and leaves high into the air. It continued right onto the water sucking up the water and causing waves – an amazing sight that we have not yet seen.
The short disturbance by nature was soon followed by a small herd of Wildebeest who rushed in with little worries or cares, stirring up the mud into the water. In the wings we could see the next cast members – two giraffe.
The Giraffe stood a long time inspecting the safety of the scene before approaching, they backed away a bit before finally coming into drink.Giraffe are probably at their most vulnerable when they are drinking as they have to spread their legs to get their head from great heights to ground level so you can understand why they make sure that there are no dangers before doing so.
All this time the rhino were sleeping, dragonflies darted above the water and rested temporarily on stumps.
The European Swallow, now known as the Barn Swallow, was back from his excursion over our winter months to Europe. They where swooping in from heights to millimeters above the water to drink or catch insects from the surface.
The arrival of a further two rhino woke some of the sleeping rhino as they wandered past to a nice mud patch which they dropped into and started to cover their bodies in it. They do this to cool their large bodies and it offers some protection against biting insects. A good roll in the mud is generally followed by a good rub against a tree stump. This rub gives the rhino great pleasure and their delight can be heard in the loud vocals they emit during this time. Ticks and other parasites that were on the rhino’s body get stuck in the hardening mud and the fall off as the mud is rubbed off.
To our delight – enter stage left – another female rhino, this one with a calf. It was the mommy and baby that we often see in this area. The baby is growing quickly but still very cute. We now were watching 9 rhinos, some rolling in the mud, others drinking and some still sleeping.
There was so much going on apart from the rhino: warthogs were drinking to our right, zebra straight in front of us. Golden-breasted Buntings and Violet-eared Waxbills were feeding and drinking along the shoreline. A hartebeest came in, almost un-noticed, to our right. There was so much activity that it was hard to keep up.
The rhino slowly moved off and for once quietness could be heard, this before the finale. A small herd of kudu arrived and as the cows drank a magnificent bull stepped out of the bush and majestically stood and looked at us. Lowered his head and had a long drink before standing tall again and proudly walking off with his females in tow.
See more pics taken at the waterhole: https://ourbots.wordpress.com/photos-2/kgaka-waterhole/