After dinner last night things got really interesting at the bush camp water hole. Most of us were lingering outside after dinner when the family group of three rhinos (the female with the broken horn and her two youngsters) came sauntering in, nervously watching us watching them. The entire people group fell silent. After a while the rhinos finally decided it was safe enough to drink with us humans there in the lapa, and drank their fill. They then proceeded to spend some time licking the salt blocks Okambara puts out for the animals.
About fifteen minutes later the elephants came rushing in!
Rhinos and elephants at the waterhole—now that’s something we’ve just not seen yet this year. The elephants came in as briskly as usual, eager to get right to the business of drinking. We thought it curious that the matriarch did not chase off the rhinos, and we all just sat silently watching the encounter. (See the rhinos int he far left of the picture?)
The elephants moved off in a hurry—under their usual +/- ten minutes— and the young bull elephant stayed.
Now this guy is about eight years old, and since there are no mature bull elephants in the herd, let’s just say he doesn’t have a positive role model for appropriate behavior. The young bull decided he was going to antagonize the rhinos, and started first with a staring contest. When that didn’t get the rhinos riled up then he sucked up some water and actually sprayed the young rhino in the face with it! Again that didn’t gain a reaction from the rhinos, so then the bull went around the other side of the water hole and stared at them again, then he threatened with a mock charge, and even rolled up his truck, flapped his ears and prepared for battle! He also kept kicking the dirt with his front legs in apparent frustration at not being able to engage the horned trio.
None too impressed, the rhinos stood their ground, the young one not fully engaging and backing off, and that’s what gave the young bull the idea that he was winning. Back and forth the two sides danced, and finally the rhinos abandoned the stalemate and one by one went back to the salt lick on the other side of the water, ignoring the young bill. Flummoxed, the young stud finally meandered off in the same direction his herd marched off, and disappeared into the darkness.
We humans let out a collective sigh of relief.