They say that’s how it goes for people, animals and birds that daily cycle of life and death in Africa.
We arrive in Maun and set up camp right on the river. Within minutes we’ve spotted an African Fish Eagle, a pair of Northern Black Korhaan, two Green Backed Heron, a Lesser Jacana hurrying along, a noisy Blacksmith Lapwing chasing a Hammerhead, a Senegal Coucal and of course the ever curious Southern Yellow-Billed Hornbill (when I was growing up we called them Banana Beak), along with Cape Turtle Doves and others that I’m not ‘bird watcher’ enough to recognize. So much life on the river!
“It’s a hippo!” Sure enough, there only meters away, a hippo is yawning showing off those wicked teeth. Did you know that the hippo is responsible for more human deaths than any other African animal?
Although dusk is an hour or so away the hippo makes her way ashore to graze on the small island. The shoreline fence that had earlier seemed annoying is now a welcome barrier between this big beast an our campsite.
While watching the hippo there’s splashing behind the tall river grass to the right of us. The Korhaan seem unperturbed so it must not be a crocodile or other predator. Our attention returns to the hippo and the white Egret that now eagerly follows her.
More splashing around behind the grass to the right. I see something move and raise my binoculars. Its only a brahma type bull. But he sure is acting odd, stamping his feet in the shallow water. He emerges, thrashing, then drops on his side!
“Does a crocodile have him by the neck?” asks a fellow camper who has joined us. I strain to see, but only the legs of the bull are visible, the upper two keep thrashing, his head must be under water! No sign of a crocodile. The bull lies still.
No crocodile, he just died it seems. Maybe a snake bite?
Two dogs venture into the water and very tentatively sniff the the dead bull and retreat. Now two locals wade over to poke and prod. After about fifteen minutes they return with others. They drag and push the ‘village dinner’ out of the water… and the chopping begins.
The hippo has returned to the river. The Lapwing is still chasing off the Hammerhead and the Coucal has found a good feeding spot on the shoreline. The sun sets on another day of life and death in Africa.
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