Toka Leya Assistant Manager Takudzwa Gonese reports on some incredible wildlife encounters at this usually serene Zambezi riverside camp last week…
One evening recently, as I was leaving my office to make my way to my room, four figures in the bush suddenly caught my attention. Our camp Toka Leya is elevated, so I was up on the connecting walkway when the four shapes emerged from the twilight, at our lagoon right in front of the camp office/reception area! They were motionless and it appeared that they had just noticed me as well.
It was at this point I decided to just be patient and see what would happen next. I am glad I made this decision because I realised that of the four animals, one was Moto Moto, the camp’s ‘resident’ female hippo with her two calves, while the fourth was an unknown male hippo.
Moto Moto, Toka Leya's resident hippo with her newborn and sub-adult calf. Photograph by Samuel Simunji Simunji
Now just to give you an idea of this scenario, the massive male hippo had just come out of the lagoon so the mother was very protective of her offspring – one of them, to my knowledge, is a sub-adult male. It looked like the big male was not a fan of the younger sub-adult, so mom was doing everything to protect him and her little one. It was a very tense moment as I thought at any moment the mother might lose her cool and attack the big male.
Five minutes went by – and seemed like eternity. The standoff was still going on. The mother at one point made a loud, grumbling grunt and I saw the little calf move behind her. Another ten minutes went by and all of a sudden the big male moved towards a nearby bush and started marking his territory. He then slowly moved towards the lagoon as mother and calves headed towards him.
He slipped silently into the dark water and disappeared, and instantly the intensity of the saga calmed down. The mother and little calf started grazing but to my surprise the young male went to the exact spot the big male had marked and proceeded to mark his territory on top of the big male’s. WHAT CHEEK! Not sure if mom is going to keep protecting him at this rate.
Oh, and by the way... On another occasion last week guests watched a large male kudu crossing the mighty Zambezi River; however, he did not make it as a three-metre flat dog (crocodile) got to him before he could emerge safely on to the opposite bank. Sighting of a lifetime!
One of our guides also witnessed a large African rock python in mid-action about to eat an impala it had just caught.
Certainly an eventful month at Toka Leya – and we’re only just half way!