Buffaloes of the Mphongolo

It was hot. It was dry. It was dusty. The bellowing and snorting of buffalo filled our ears, their smell hanging thick in the air. The ground around our position was already littered with the trampled dung and tracks of hundreds of the animals. And still more of them kept coming, making their tiresome way in single file up the steep bank of the Mphongolo, then standing at the top catching their breath before rushing after the rest of the massive herd disappearing into the mopane. The last thing a tired buffalo needs at the end of a long, hot Lowveld day is to be caught alone when darkness falls…

During our September 2014 visit to the Kruger National Park, we encountered several exceptionally large buffalo herds around Mopani and Shingwedzi Rest Camps. This sighting however was the most memorable and we’ll undoubtedly think back to it every time we pass the location in future. The dry winter season had seen to it that the Mphongolo River was reduced to little more than a few stagnant pools surrounded by deep, soft, dusty sand. These pools sustain an incredibly diverse array of birds and game through the dry winter, making the 30km-long S56 Mphongolo River Loop, which follows the river course and offers dozens of good vantage points over the river, one of the best drives in the Shingwedzi area.

 

 

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40 thoughts on “Buffaloes of the Mphongolo

  1. Pingback: Remembering the Mphongolo Buffaloes | de Wets Wild

  2. Pingback: Spring in Kruger: September 2014 | de Wets Wild

  3. Spokie sny spoor

    Oehoe! Sprekende fotos – so asof mens die droogte kan proe. Dankie ook die mooi omskrywings, voel of mens daar kan wees binne in die oomblik …

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  4. iAMsafari.com

    This is a truly great sighting guys! We’ve been lucky a few times on the H14 between Mopani and Phalaborwa – once about ten minutes from the hek; one of the biggest breeding herds I’ve ever seen – captured on my Polaroid around 20 years ago 🙂

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      1. iAMsafari.com

        They certainly are… guess I can still smell and hear them – staring at us in that somehow obtuse way. Also calls back memories of a walk near Olifants with a giant ranger called ‘Jumbo’ – found ourselves completely surrounded. Pre-digital but true story 😉

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        1. de Wets Wild Post author

          They’re not very respectful of people on foot, I can imagine the adrenaline rush that must have been Maurice! Though with “Jumbo” you were in very safe hands; we also did a walk with him from Mopani in early December 2001

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                1. de Wets Wild Post author

                  That would be wonderful Maurice! We’ll share itineraries closer to the time, we might just find ourselves in the “right place at the right time” 😉

                  Borneo sounds wonderful! Going in search of orangutangs?

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                  1. iAMsafari.com

                    Orangutangs indeed and hopefully some forest Elephants at Kinabatangang river. My daughter’s wish is a clouded leopard – I’m sure that without a sighting of this elusive cat her trip will still be good.

                    As far as Africa concerns – I’ll keep reading and enjoying your adventures till we get back!

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  5. scrapydo

    Dit het ek nou geniet! Dis darem maar n gestoei as dit so n klomp is. Het juis vanmiddag geloop en dink dat dit nou heerlik sou wees om n slag weer “wildtuin” toe te gaan en net rustig te wees.(Die edagtes kom op terwyl ek met Trompie loop!)

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        1. de Wets Wild Post author

          Vir so baie van ons is die liefde vir die Wildtuin ons “gevoer” deur ons ouers. Ek is so dankbaar vir my ouers daarvoor, en net so dankbaar dat ons eie seuntjie ook van jongs af al mal is oor die plek.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      They’re very powerful animals and we agree Dendymactoodle, caution is always advised. In our experience the lone bulls are even more cantankerous than the animals in big herds like this one.

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