Tales from the Waterhole 2 – by Peter Ellis
When we drew up to the waterhole it looked interesting. There were two areas of water about 100 metres apart and it is a man made waterhole. The solar pump was hidden behind a high elephant proof circular wall. As we stopped the engine we could see an excellent mix of zebra, kudu, red hartebeest, springbok, oryx and a few ostrich taking their turn to walk up to the water.
Our attention was on the rival male zebra fighting about how close bachelors are allowed near a harem. Zebras fight dirty with vicious bites and powerful kicks used to make a point. However we also noted that all the animals kept a very wary eye on the compound that housed the water pump. With good reason. A bit of manoeuvring gave us sight of four lion cubs trying to sleep in the shade.
After a few minutes they became restless and started circling the pump compound, calling as they went. Suddenly a female lion leapt up on to the wall and was soon joined by another. After surveying the scene, they dropped to the ground and walked over to the nearest waterhole. Two more cubs appeared and then finally a large male made his entrance from some bushes a few hundred metres away.
The other animals gave them a wide enough berth but continued to drink from the other waterhole. The cubs played with the water and their mother’s tails while the male walked off with a youngster trying to attach his tail. A swift cuff put him in his place and sent him back to the rest of the pride.
We sent a happy hour watching this inter play between cubs and mothers and the tension between the other thirsty animals wanting to access the water. As we drove off the largest part of the pride were heading for the shade of mopane trees some way off and a small herd of elephant were arriving to claim their time to drink.