Saved from certain death

On a recent trip to Mana Pools in the Zambezi Valley in Zimbabwe, I was sitting at one of the pans that supply Mana’s wildlife with life-giving water, when a small group of elephant cows emerged from the dry African bush.

There was a baby elephant with the group, which had obviously been looking forward to this late afternoon drink, because as they got to the pan it ran straight in and flopped down into the shallow, muddy water rolling and splashing about. It didn’t have a worry in the world, and it definitely wasn’t thinking about what dangers could possibly be lurking in the murky waters.

The calf was still very young and did not know how to use its trunk to drink yet. It was down on its knees drinking with its mouth, and at one stage it stood up and extended its trunk into the water to try out this very handy piece of equipment that it had been blessed with. I was photographing the little calf at the time when a crocodile launched itself up the entirety of the little calf’s trunk.

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It was mayhem.

The calf let out a blood-curdling squeal and started a tug of war with the crocodile. The elephant cows, which had moved off to the side a bit, came charging in, trumpeting at the top of their lungs.

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Time stood still as the cows paced around the calf, not quite knowing what to do. The calf struggled and with a burst of pure determination almost pulled the crocodile right out of the water.

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As the crocodile was hauled out of the water, the cows charged towards it and the crocodile proceeded to let go of the calf.

This little calf was not going to give up its playtime for this crocodile, which came to within a foot of the calf again as the elephants returned to the water.

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The little calf got away unscathed and eventually moved away with its mother and the others.

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Francois Bornman

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Posted by Pat Dewil

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