****Not for sensitive readers****
One of the most surreal, amazing and cruel things I have experienced in my life, happened during our trip to Namibia. We had the privilege to witness a pack of hyenas kill a kudu! Not sure if privilege is the correct way to describe it, but nevertheless, what an experience!
We arrived at Chudob waterhole around 6:20 am (park gates opened at 6:00 am). The previous day we found 6 lions right next to the road heading to the waterhole, so we figured maybe we spot them again. Lions are territorial after all. When we arrived, there were already 2 other vehicles (both with lenses sticking out of the windows that makes you want to put your tiny camera away). There were about 8 hyenas, all lying around the waterhole. The kuku was standing in the water glaring at the hyenas. They have already bitten off its tail and the kudu appeared to be tired. Which meant that they have been going at it for a while.
Every now and then the kudu would get out of the water and attempt to lie down for a while. Then one or more of the hyenas (never all of them and never in much of a haste) would approach and get him to stand up again or chase him back into the water. But this was a half an hour process that repeated itself every now and then. At some point the kudu managed to lie down on the edge of the waterhole and enjoy the early morning sun for a while. When we looked at the photos that evening my husband pointed out that he looked content at that point, as if he knew this is his last day on earth and he was thinking that he had a good life.
After 3 hours I was really bored. I mean for the last 3 hours the kudu would get out of the water and the hyenas would chase him back, every now and then managing to bite him, but never anything serious. We have gotten a few nice photos as well and we were only in Etosha for 3 nights. So I didn’t want to spend an entire day at a waterhole, there was still so much to cover. By now, there were a decent crowd gathered at the waterhole, not that it bothered the animals. Not everybody had the patience to stick it out and the vehicles were constantly swapping places as people left and arrived. The game driving vehicles were the worst, they would park in front of the people that were there before them to get the best view for their ‘guests’. Really inconsiderate, even parking in front of the people with the fancy cameras and the huge lenses. And their ‘guests’ would be so noisy, especially the vehicles that were full. They would literally disturb the entire waterhole.
After 3 hours and 10 minutes I managed to convince my husband that we can leave, so we started the vehicle and drove up and down the waterhole one last time. And then the hyenas decided it is time, after 3 hours and 15 minutes they started to aggressively attack the kudu. By now there were more than 20 hyenas around, still only attacking the kudu 2 to 4 at a time. Chasing him from one side of the waterhole to the other. Who knew hyenas were such good swimmers.
At one point the hyenas bit him again on the tail, and the sounds that came from the kudu was horrific. Some people even looked around nervously, as their first impression was clearly that there is a lion nearby. The people next to us left, they probably didn’t want to see what was coming. Even the zebras and giraffes ran away at the sound.
The hyenas kept going at him and he kept fighting back like he has done for the last 3 hours, getting a good hit in every now and then with his head. But it was now clear that the kudu’s end is approaching fast. At some point the hyenas dragged him into the reads in the middle of the waterhole and the kudu went quiet. We figured he must be dead now. After a few minutes the kudu came swimming out again, no hyena with him. They managed to bite of his left ear and bit a good chunk out of his back.
Then there was one last standoff, moving from left to right one last time and when they appeared on the other side of the reads, it was all over for the kudu. After almost 4 hours at the waterhole. We watched for another 40 minutes how the hyenas feasted away. There seemed to be hyenas approaching from everywhere, all wanting to come join the party. There were even 2 jackals that wanted to get a bit of the action.
I am glad we stuck it out, but definitely not something for everybody. As mesmerizing as nature and wildlife can be, it can be equally as cruel. Definitely an experience I will remember for ever. This post is dedicated to the majestic kudu at Chudob waterhole, who put up a good fight until the end.
You can find a list of all my blog posts of our trip, here.
Visited: April 2017