In Polokwane, we take a break to repair our motorcycles and have some rest. Kruger National Park is calling – a destination, which has been on my “bucket list” for a long time. Finally my dream comes true. In a rented car – on motorbikes we would not be allowed to enter the park (for good reasons) – we drive through Venda area. The region is rich in baobab populations and I am in heaven. We enter the park at Pafuri Gate in the North of South Africa. Our tent is set up quickly for the night – wild animals lure us on our first game drive.
The golden hours of the afternoon provide the best light for photographs. We trundle along a pad with our car, crawl around a curve in walking pace and discover “THEM” – two solitary and massive African buffaloes who have decided to separate themselves from the herd in their old age. They either live alone or form small male groups.
This makes them particularly dangerous because on their own they are no longer protected by a big herd. If they feel threatened, they tend to be violent and aggressive.
The two we are approaching feed peacefully in the high grass around them. Oxpeckers eagerly comb through the bristles of thinning fur always on the lookout for ticks and other parasites. The buffaloes do not seem to mind such business.
We are sure they have noticed us by now but decided to ignore us. Instead they continue to eat their way forward. We slow down and approach the animals to approximately 30 meters.
A massive horn armored head rises – bloodshot eyes seem to fix us to the spot. The closest boulder suddenly seems to be bothered by our presence. We do not feel comfortable at all and the sight is frightening. We sit in the car motionless and hold our breath. We dare not move one inch closer.
We feel deep respect for these two buffalo. They radiate great power and strength. Once they decide to attack they follow through with it – regardless of the consequences for them and no chance for the victim to escape. There are no feint attacks in the realm of buffalo.
Stories are told where lions attempted to attack a weak member of a buffalo herd. Buffaloes tend to defend their herd members and one or the other lion was found flying when hit by the angry horn carriers.
We do not find inner peace in the presence of those two bulls in front of us. Nevertheless we are very impressed and decide to move on. Later at home in Germany I paint one of them at the easel – his haunting gaze still very vivid in my mind. Inevitably, he develops as I have seen him and his name takes form: respect!