A while ago, Rul Ntemane, one of the guides at Pondoro Safari Game Lodge in the Greater Kruger National Park, woke up to the sound of vervet monkeys giving alarm calls close to the staff accommodation. He quickly got dressed and went to investigate as he knew that some kind of predator must be lurking around.
Prey animals live a charmed life and their survival depends on being alert to any kind of danger or suspected threat to their lives. In Afrikaans we have a saying “liewer bang Jan as dooie Jan” which loosely translates that “a scared and alive Peter is better than a brave and dead Peter”. Any suspect shadow or fleeting glimpse of a difficult to identify creature would thus cause the bush to reverberate with alarm calls.
We often find predators when listening to these warning signals, but a lot of time can also be wasted when reacting to false alarms of animals with a very nervous disposition. There are a few animals whose warning calls can usually be depended upon like vervet monkeys, bushbuck and kudus.
Rul was amazed to find a crocodile and lion feeding side by side on a waterbuck kill, with the crocodile even doing a barrel roll to tear a piece of meat from the carcass. By the time his video camera was ready to record, the crocodile had unfortunately swallowed the piece of meat and was lying a metre away from the feeding lion. It is rare to find a scene like this and lions usually have a healthy respect for crocodiles, not wanting to get too close and risk a life-threatening injury against these armoured tanks.
This particular pride’s territory follows the Olifants River in a fairly narrow band and frequent dealings with their ancient neighbours would have made them bolder in defending their kills. Crocodiles have an incredible sense of smell and a carcass close to the river would be sure to attract their unwanted attention. A scene like this, though rarely seen, probably repeated itself countless of times over millennia as these mammals and reptiles fought and bluffed their way around the dinner table.