The giants of Whata Pan

Pamushana | October 2018

Whata Pan has become a hot spot for every guide these days. Sitting inside the cool sunken photo hide or stopping nearby for sundowners is so rewarding. With the high temperature we are experiencing this month lots of animals like elephants, rhinos, buffalos, plains game and sometimes lions and other predators come to drink. By mid-morning and late afternoon Whata is ‘pumping’ as we say, with different species of animals coming for a drink and mud bath. Animals like warthogs, impalas and black-backed jackals are nervous when they approach the waterhole – they are even spooked by flying birds. They sometimes walk in circles sniffing the air checking for scent from predators, they take ages before they drink, and if they are not comfortable they leave without drinking. Jackals will take a few licks and lift their heads checking for danger. Different species of beautiful birds come to drink and the small ones erupt in different directions when a hawk flies over. The heavyweights at the waterhole are undoubtedly the bull elephants, but a pecking order exists among them whereby the bigger older bulls hold more sway.

Images explained:

A young bull quenches his thirst, but a larger bull soon approaches to muscle in.

As the larger bull arrives and starts to drink, the younger one tentatively reaches out to it with his trunk in a friendly submissive gesture. In return for his good manners he gets squirted with water!

The both leave the area as companions, escorted by turtle doves.