What do I know about buffalo other than what I have read elsewhere. Well, I have seen how temperamental a really old guy can be - he made the so-called king of the beasts run away like a whimpering kitten with his tail between his legs. I have also listened to some campsite stories about people that ran into the wrath of an old bull, usually with very bad endings. I once met someone that somehow survived such an attack - he barely remembers what really happened, only the fact that he opened his eyes in hospital. So, stories about these old guys I usually take with a pinch of salt, well OK, unless I have known the person telling the story for quite some time.
So I went looking for such an old guy from the relative comfort and safety of my vehicle.
As luck would have it, he had his mud-bath in a rain-pool where I could not get any photographic evidence. Slowly, he emerged from behind the trees into the tall grass - at this stage of his life there is nothing that hurries him. Then good fortune stumbled upon him, in the form of a herd of his own kind of around a hundred crossing the road about a hundred meters ahead of him. He stood and watched in silence as the young guns lead the way up front. The cows and calves slowly followed and still he stood there motionless.
Then a few young heifers came into view and I swear I could see a change in his stance and I almost felt the same longing that he must have had. Feelings about the good old days when we both were still in our prime when young females of our own kind walked by - (that's when I took his picture). The back markers and current caretakers of the herd came into view. He shook his head almost in disgust, turned the other way and stumbled along on his way - alone once more.
Then there is the Dagha Boys.
Slow and almost methodical, always watching each others back. I have watched them for hours, know quite a few of their habits, where and when they like to take a rest to lie down and ruminate. I can honestly say that I do recognize some of them - watching them slowly wandering past the fence to one of their favourite sleeping grounds. They pick this particular spot with some regularity, but by the time you think you have figured it out, they disappear for days, only to return unexpectedly with sometimes another new member, or sometimes one member less. Then you start to theorize about what happened to that guy, only to see him together with his mates a few days later at an unexpected place miles away from their regular campsite.
Slower than usual, but methodical and bush wise - not to be messed with. They love their mud baths after the rain, turning their heads either away from or towards the falling rain and then just trying to catch up on some sleep whilst lying in the shallow mud-pools. I have never experienced any aggression from them, even when I accidentally drove past where they where sleeping within a meter of one of them. He jumped up so quickly and noisily that at first I thought I must have driven over his tail. He then just stared at me in disgust. Or, as someone once said:- "They always look at you as if you owe them a lot of money"
The drinking herd
Nsemani dam, H7 towards Orpen, No Entry road on the left, a shortish side road also on the left that runs down to the outlet of the dam. We saw them coming down the No Entry road - the biggest herd in the park. We watched them make their way towards the H7 and I decided if I want to have any chance of getting a picture of them drinking at the dam I had better go through the herd. At that point in time they were all over the man made junctions and people in other vehicles must have watched in awe or disgust of my "stupidity" to slowly herd my way right through the middle to be able to pick a spot for this shot.
As you can see, by the time I got there, most have had their fill and most have left already.
My experience with driving through a herd of buffalo started way back, when I at first sat there waiting patiently for them to cross the road. Then one day I had to get moving or risk gate closing time. Myself and people in another vehicle waited as long as we could before starting to make our way through. IMHO and hindsight we must have waited a wee bit too long, the last back marker (maybe on the verge of becoming a Dagha Boy) walked up to the other vehicle, gave it a good shove with his horn and then walked off slowly. To this day I either go through the middle of the herd or I wait till I'm sure all of them have crossed.
Well, that's my buffalo story and I'm sticking to it.