Buffaloes and black rhinos on best behaviour at the bar

Pamushana | February 2019

The temperature was very high, above 40 degrees Celsius, and so I decided that afternoon to sit and wait quietly in the shade with my guests at Lojaan Dam. Lojaan is one of my favourite places on the property. The scenery is amazing, and this area with its hills, drainage lines and thick bush is the right habitat for buffaloes and black rhino.

Buffaloes are unselective grazers and are dependent on water, drinking at least once a day, if not twice. Black rhinos are browsers, not grass-eating grazers, and being shy and nervous they prefer dense areas with lots of protective cover. They drink large volumes at a time, preferably daily, but can go a day or two without water if need be.

Some buffalo bulls arrived first to drink and dip themselves in the water to cool their body temperature. The temperature was still high at 4pm, so we were astonished to see a black rhino arrive. Normally they wait for the safety of dusk to emerge and drink. The heat, the remoteness and quietness of this area must have drawn the bull out, and it was soon followed by another.

Our first black rhino bull arrived from the east. It did not look around or check the surroundings, but instead made a bee-line straight for the water and started drinking. The second bull came from the north, and I thought we were going to witness a fight, but the first bull lifted its head and looked at the arriving rhino and continued drinking. The second bull joined in but drank a distance apart. Sometimes they will fight, and we have witnessed some formidable and terrifying territorial and dominance fights, and often the victim will rush
into the water and use it as a refuge when being attacked.

Thankfully all was peaceful on this remarkable afternoon. The rhinos drank, the buffaloes waded about and grazed on the banks, herons fished, guinea fowl scratched around and the oxpeckers did what they always do – peck! After drinking everyone went their different ways, including us back to the lodge to enjoy a delicious dinner and reflect on the wonders of nature.