Pamushana | December 2016

This white rhino bull was intent on separating a cow from her young calf, and trying to mate with her. The mother was having none of his nonsense, and kept rebuffing him. He was bearing quite a few new gouges on his head, from her horn, as a result of her chasing him off.

In the photo you can see he is advancing on the calf, but the brave little calf quickly realised this was unwise and galloped back to its mother’s side. When the mother and her calf went to have a drink at the pan, he decided to try and get to her by splashing straight through the water. She and the calf quickly retreated, and after quite some time of this losing battle the rhino bull became so frustrated that it chased an African buffalo that was standing nearby, and managed to almost toss him through the air.

A territorial white rhino male usually mates at about 12 years old. Gestation for the mother is a long 16 months. A calf stays with its mother for two to three years, and a new calf is born after about a 22-month interval.

These first two ‘debt collectors’ appeared before us, and it was interesting to see how different they looked. Buffalo bulls’ hair becomes sparse with age (like that of so many men), but the bull on the right was facially bald. You could tell it was very old compared to the other that had a thick glossy coat, and lots of facial hair. His horn tips were also blunt, his boss worn smooth and his ears ragged.

We found the third bull at a waterhole, having a drink with an oxpecker. He was aged almost exactly between the first two, as can be seen by his partial balding and smoothing off of his boss and horn tips. A buffalo’s lifespan is around 15 years.