Traffic congestion at the intersection

Pamushana | October 2020

Patience is a virtue, especially when beggars can’t be choosers! By mid-morning the desire for the plains game to quench their thirst overcomes any of their nervousness. They’ve gathered their courage, emerged from the bushveld and take their turn at the water’s edge.

This sequence was taken at Hwata Pan which is one of our few permanent supplied water sources in the south-eastern area. It is a fine line in wildlife conservation as to where you supply water, if any at all. Doing so changes the dynamic of what animals can then survive in the greater area, how predation on them increases at the waterpoints, what animals thrive and multiply as a result of the water and surrounding vegetation and how they may dominate and suppress animals that used to survive in that water-scarce area, and many more factors. Let’s just say it’s complicated!

On this morning two species we don’t often see out in the open arrived to drink – eland and Lichtenstein hartebeest. Both are normally shy, skittish and only momentarily glimpsed in more remote areas. Eland obtain most of their water from their diet and can go for long periods without drinking. Lichtenstein hartebeest, zebras and impalas need to drink regularly but the hartebeest will travel further to find water and then return to their preferred habitat.

It is fascinating to watch which animals drink when. The eland and hartebeest seemed bolder than the abundant zebras and impalas. The zebras especially seem to spend ages gathering up the courage and behaving in a very alert manner. All eventually got their turn, including a few guinea fowl.

As Mark Friend said in his story, now really is the time to see abundant wildlife if you have the patience to sit at a waterhole for a couple of hours.

Story by Jenny Hishin, photos by Sarah Ball.