A game drive on a hot day

Pamushana | November 2020

The shrill call of cicada males as a result of contractions of sound-producing organs, the tymbals, was getting much louder which is perhaps the most characteristic feature of a hot drowsy day in Africa. It was almost midday and the heat was getting to its extreme. I drove past the mopane shrubs as I was heading towards Banyini Pan and all was very quiet with a few zebras and impalas seeking shade under the umbrella trees.

As I headed towards the eastern side of the pan my eyes were caught by something that looked like a log under a fever tree. Well, that “log” turned out to be a male lion lying in the shallow water with half of its body submerged. I realize that the enormous cat was just cooling off as it was that hot. After noticing that he had been spotted, he got up with a somewhat shy expression and walked away. I continued driving around the pan and found a male waterbuck also chilling in the water, right in the middle of the pan.

And to top it off regarding animals lying in the water, a clan of about 11 spotted hyenas were sleeping in the shallows. Other than cooling off, hyenas usually practice this behaviour of sitting in the water after feeding when digestion causes their body temperature to rise. The refreshing water and panting cool them as they are unable to perspire. As I was watching the hyenas, one of the sub adult males started whinnying towards the female which was sitting in the middle of the water, but she grunted back which was more of a defensive behaviour. This went on for a while until she got up, dipped her head into the water and pulled a whole impala carcass out. It is a common behaviour for them to hide carcasses under water as a way of protecting it and keeping it fresher for longer. She was very possessive of the meal and dragged the carcass under a shady tree to start feeding.

One male wildebeest came to quench its thirst and walked away. I continued with my drive, and this time I headed towards the Chiredzi River but it was also quiet. Luckily I managed to spot one elephant bull. As the food is scarce because it is so dry animals, such as elephants, take advantage of their feeding abilities which other animals don’t have. This elephant walked towards a thorn tree, inserted his tusk and with the aid of his trunk started to pull off the tree bark and eat it. I observed him and the unfortunate tree for a while before driving back to the cool of my home and a tasty lunch.