A morning like no other

Pamushana | September 2020

It is such an amazing feeling waking up and starting your day with the incredible African sounds of nature – lions roaring from a distance and fish eagles calling. It is such a privilege living within nature although we sometimes take it for granted. I make a point of being very thankful and appreciate every day as it comes by.

One morning this month, at around 05:30, I was getting ready for work, and as part of my normal routine when I wake up I took my binoculars to the deck and scanned around the Simbiri Dam for any wildlife activity. It was very quiet on this particular morning which was unusual and I thought there may have been some predator activities during the night that could have scared the plains game.

While I was digesting all these thoughts in my mind I caught a glimpse of some movement from the other side of the dam. It was a female impala that appeared to be very skittish, then stood and looked back where it came from and started snorting and making alarm calls. I knew it was in danger and had been separated from the rest of the herd.

Then a pack of eight wild dogs appeared. Wild dogs are highly specialised hunters and they usually hunt in the cool of early morning and late afternoon. The pack move slowly towards the intended prey then increase pace as the quarry move away and then they single out an individual. Wild dogs are not wanton killers, they kill only for their immediate needs. They often use fence-lines, natural obstructions or water bodies to corner their prey.

As the dogs came closer, the impala was trapped between the dogs and the water and the only way to escape was to jump into the watery unknown. Danger was drawing closer and the impala had no choice. She jumped in and swam towards a small rocky island. There she frantically tried to climb on the rock but kept on slipping as impala hooves are not designed for that. She eventually made it and stood shivering while the dogs paced the shoreline deciding their next move.

Little did the impala know the jumping and splashing in the water had attracted the attention of two crocodiles that came to investigate. They came right next to the rock and that made the poor impala more nervous. As the impala was trying to balance and gain her footing she slipped straight into the mouth of a crocodile. That was an opportunity that came at the right time for the crocodile. I only saw the water swelling and that was it. The impala varnished into the jaws of the reptile.

The dogs didn’t even know what happened to their prey and they ran around the edges of the dam hoping that the impala would reappear. Eventually they gave up and left the Simbiri area.

It was an astonishing sighting and start to the day.

Photographs by Jenny Hishin