High alert

Some years ago, MJ (friend), KJ (partner) and I were sitting on the side of a dirt road in the middle of nowhere (well, it was in Kruger, but we were out on a very quiet road and it seemed like the middle of nowhere!).

It was summer and very hot and still, a few hours after midday. There were no other cars around – we had the place to ourselves….. well, that is unless you count a herd of Impala, a colony of mongooses and a lion. We could not see the lion, but we could hear it and it was not too far away.

We had stopped to watch the banded mongooses which were playing on a mound about 10 metres from the road. I have found these animals to be quite shy, but as they are a favourite species of mine, I am always on the lookout for them when in areas where they may live. This colony had been entertaining us for about 20 minutes when we heard the lion roar.

High alert in the herd, the females marshalling the younger ones to a safer area

We sat mesmerised – watching the reaction of the Impala and the mongooses to the threatening sounds. Immediately the whole herd of Impala went on alert. Ears flickered nervously, trying to ascertain whether they should be taking flight or staying where they were. The females started to herd the younger animals together and took them to the furthest end of the herd – away from the sound of the threat. The males positioned themselves around the edge of the group and continued to listen intently.

The mongooses were behaving in a similar fashion. Sitting upright, every one was peering  into the thick bush, just waiting……. The silence was absolute, except for the occasional roar of the lion.

Listening intently to hear what is going on a few hundred metres away

It was such a magic moment – all these animals poised and still, and we just had to get a closeup photo, so we used the best camera and lens that we had. It was a great picture!

Luckily we were able to keep shooting within milliseconds, because the sound of the camera caused almost the whole group to instantly turn towards us! And we caught that on camera too!

Click! Intent ears instantly try to source the camera sound!

The effect was amazing and very entertaining!

We had been hoping that we might see something none of us had seen – a live hunt and perhaps a kill. But it was not to be. The lion did not appear and eventually the animals relaxed and the mongooses disappeared into the undergrowth.

To this day, the three of us still remember and laugh about the day we enjoyed watching those little mongooses and were then fortunate enough to capture their fantastic reaction to that sudden sound.

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2 Responses to High alert

  1. Yes, you only need to watch the behaviour of the buck and smaller mammals to know if there is a predator close by. We usually go to the Kalahari where it is really difficult to spot especially the big cats.

    That Mongoose family is just so cute!

    Like

    • Madoqua says:

      Oh, I would love to go to the Kalahari, and also to the Kgalagadi National Park. I enjoyed your post on the borders up there. A whole different world indeed!

      Like

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