Pachyderm showdown at Western Pan

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We stopped the game viewer to listen for alarm calls – it was a sweltering hot afternoon and the usual chirping of birds had subsided due to the heat as they sought shade and shelter from the unforgiving sun. The only thing one could hear was the chiming of the cicadas. Suddenly we heard a swishing noise coming from Western Pan and upon further investigation found a breakaway herd of juvenile elephants amusing themselves in the water. The rest of the herd fed merrily nearby and slowly moved off but this group of juveniles was having the time of their lives as they rolled, splashed and blew bubbles, focused only on the cooling water and trying to keep their heads above water as they challenged and pushed each other around.

Young elephant playing at Mombo's Western Pan

As the group got rowdier one of them noticed a large male hippo, almost fully submerged in the middle of the pan looking rather dejected that his tranquil wallow was being sullied by the amusement of the unwanted pachyderms. The elder of the herd decided to challenge the hippo and stared him down, ears spread, trunk swishing and causing waves of water to splash over the hippo.

Pachy showdown at Mombo's Western Pan

After a few swipes left and right the hippo decided enough was enough and launched his hulking mass out the water, jaws agape and swinging his head from side to side!

Pachy showdown at Mombo's Western Pan

The elephants had obviously not taken into consideration that the murky waters hid such a large animal and instantly turned on their heels and proceeded to leave the water with haste, moving as if their bathing suits were hanging around their ankles in a lope that only elephants can perfect at top speed. Their ears were still out, each one trumpeting loudly and trying to locate the rest of the herd, their afternoon splash having come to an abrupt end.

Elephants make a hasty departure from the hippo at Mombo's Western Pan

The large hippo sunk back into the water as deep as he could go, content that his wallow had returned to the peaceful sanctuary it was before. A little crocodile popped its head up as if to say thank you and the wading birds on the shore returned to the shady spots near the water. All was well again with the world at Western Pan!

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By Graham Simmonds

As the former General Manager of Mombo Camp, and now based in Zimbabwe's Victoria Falls, Graham is perfectly placed to share all the extraordinary experiences and sightings from his travels to our camps in the pristine southern African wilderness...

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