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Kian Barker
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Shakabarker Tours

Kian Barker

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info@shakabarker.co.za

All done! 2 hours and a bit...

Greetings and salutations.

31 January 2007 went down as one of the most aggressive days that St. Lucia Wetlands had seen, although I must stress that no humans were directly or indirectly involved in the actual events. In fact, it was the hippos and the crocs who started the match that afternoon, down at the St. Lucia Ski-boat club. This following the capturing of a baby hippo by certain crocodiles... However, the hippos were not willing to allow the score to remain Hippo 0: Crocs 1,so soon it became One all. And as the buffalo were not satisfied to be left out either, they decided to put on a great performance as well...

Generally- and by that I mean most of the time- when one encounters buffalo, they are eating grass, and if they are not eating grass they will be chewing the grass they have just ingested. And not unlike the rhino, if there is grass in the offing they will most probably be eating that. Okay, okay, chewing it! Now, I must add that the buffalo are really boring while chewing grass or cud, for they maintain a sleep-like state throughout the whole process. In other words, "the lights are on, but there is no one at home" or "the boom is down and the train is not coming".
And if anybody ever acuses you of having a bovine look, it simply means that - well - you have a blank stare on your face... I should add that here we are dealing with a case of redundancy, as most staring expressions are practically blank. And yes, the story is about a male buffalo affectionately nicknamed by rangers as "Daga Boys". Translates to "Mud Boys" in the English language.

In general, Mud Boys are really, really boring, and should you wish to fall asleep, just imagine you are watching a group of buffalo ruminating. Round and round the jaws go, and the Boys really do have this lost expression on their faces. After an hour or so they would wander across a patch of grass to ingest a certain quantity and then after another hour or two of grazing, they will return to the lazy chewing motion. If you are really lucky you might see them coating themselves in mud. And yes, after the mud bath they will be back to that bovine mental state and the near comatose ruminating posture. The female herds though are more active with their calves. But that night the Daga boys were much more active than the Cows and Calves altogether...

There we were, a guide and his guests,enshrouded in the darkness of the night ,when we happened upon eight bull buffalo. While watching these buffalo eating and chewing,we noticed (or rather eventually noticed )two of them starting a fight. Not too serious, yet this was interesting as they were neither ruminating or eating grass, like the others. And after watching this for a little while, we decided to move on. So we fired the old OMC 352 (six naturally aspirated diesel cilinders) into life,and shifted over the crest of a sand dune. We stayed on the same road that lead us over the dune and carrried on until we discovered a larger group of Mud Boys that were having a good go at one another. In fact there was one particular male that was really fired up and setting down the rules for his bachelor herd. One of the other bulls decided to challenge him and he took him on. Over the past years we have seen bufffalo sparing and a couple of months back we saw the vestiges of a fairly serious buffalo fight where one male lost an eye, but nothing had prepared us for the next few minutes of really intense bull fighting...

Not only was there real head-on ramming pushing and shoving, but the skill of those males using their horns to set their opponent off balance was amazing! The older bull seemed well practiced and he was attempting to throw his opponent onto his flank, by hooking one horn under his opponents' chin and then twisting his head in such a manner that he rolled the poor fellow sideways. It was the speed and the timing with which he positioned his horns and twisted ,that threw his opponent off balance and nearly landed him on the ground. As this was happening, the younger bull soon realized that he was outmatched and decided to make a run for it. This is not all... The victor then separated this young bull from the rest of the bachelor herd and chased him off into the darkness...

We then also departed into the darkness, two spotlights whirling around looking for other interesting animal petulence, feeding or sleeping or whatever one may come across in this dark and beautiful landscape...

Hasta la vista,

The Knite Rider

Posted by Kian Barker

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