An Interrupted Evening
The vibrant red African sun sank towards the horizon. The game viewing truck pulled up at the waterhole, the last one before the exit gates. It had been a wonderful afternoon. They had seen some lions at a distance, plus a small group of elephants.
One lady whispered to her husband, “We’ve had a great game drive. Pity we didn’t see any rhino, though.”
Everyone sat and stared at the still water. The sound of the cicadas rose as evening drew in. A sense of peace pervaded the area. Suddenly ripples formed. Something was there! They held their breath as slowly the dark shape of a hippo’s head rose, followed by a great lumbering body. There was an air of suppressed excitement. Cameras trained on the emerging creature. He was hardly out before the water rippled again. A baby hippo emerged, accompanied by a collective “Ah sweet”. The mother closely followed it. They were ready to move off towards their feeding grounds when out of the bush charged a bad-tempered bull rhino—making straight for the hippo family.
Pappa hippo threw his head up and opened his jaws to expose a fearsome set of teeth. Meanwhile, Mother and baby retreated into the water.
Everyone in the vehicle held their breath. Was this to be a clash of titans? Video cameras whirred. The two animals stared at each other. Discretion being the better part of valour, the hippo retired into the water. Frustrated, the rhino pawed the ground, took two steps into the water, retreated and instead did a lap of honour and charged back into the bush.
The guide said, “You don’t see that very often,”
There was an outbreak of excited chatter as the passengers compared notes and shared the photographic evidence of an extraordinary encounter.
© Felicity Edwards