From: Wilderness Journals by Leigh Kemp
Animal behaviour recorded at Mombo Camp on the north-western point of Chiefs Island in the Okavango Delta.
The dagga boys
A group of old buffalo [dagga boys] are residents of the camp. They spend the whole day out in the floodplains before moving back to the safety of the camp for the night. They sleep under the rooms and the main area, often startling guests during the night when they move around or are chased by lions. With the lions passing through camp regularly the nights are often filled with the sounds of a lion and buffalo altercation, very often resulting in a kill. The hyenas arrive on the scene and the noise level rises.
When I first heard of fish eagles sitting on buffalo and using them as a vantage point for hunting, I presumed the person that told me the story was mistaken. My initial view was that it was an egret and that the light or the distance had caused the misunderstanding. I held this view until the day I saw it for myself. I did not have my camera with me at the time. It became an obsession to capture this on film. The few times since that I have seen the moment have been frustrating. The eagle would either fly off before I got close enough or the positioning was wrong. The only image I have to date was taken from a distance in the hope that something would come out.
With the early flood of 2004 the area in front of Little Mombo was a lush carpet of green sprinkled with sparkling jewels of water. The buffalo would often lie in the floodplain during the heat of the day accompanied by the ever-present egrets and oxpeckers. The green was astonishing, providing a deep contrast to the colours of passing animals and the dusty greys of another time.
The baboons roosted on South Island and every morning would cross the channel to Mombo Island to forage. In the evenings they would cross back to South Island. With the arrival of the flood in 2003 the baboons had to negotiate a section of water to get across the channel. The reactions of the baboons to this obstacle were fascinating.
This got me to pondering our beginnings and I pose the question: if walking upright is an evolutionary development why do baboons still spend most their time on all fours?
By Leigh Kemp