Written by: Sarah Davies
On an afternoon drive in central Kafue National Park in Zambia, we witnessed the most unexpected and, as far as we know, photographically undocumented, sighting.
We had just had the first brief storm of the season and the wildlife was noticeably excited and full of energy, with young animals running around merrily and the migratory birds in their hundreds picking off the newly hatching ants and termites.
As we rounded a bend in a very attractive stretch of miombo woodland, our guide Tyrone heard the frantic alarm calls of a herd of impala. Putting his binoculars to his eyes, he shouted: “Let’s go!”
As we moved further along the track to get a better look at what was causing the commotion, he explained that he had seen a grey shape tussling with what looked to be an young impala. Tyrone assumed that it was a baboon snatching an easy kill, as this sometimes happens at this time of year.
However, what we found was not a baboon, but a lone warthog that was in a frantic state. We watched as a young impala was attacked and gored to death by the warthog before our very eyes.
In what seemed to be a fit of rage, the warthog would tusk, stab and throw the kicking body of the impala around the woodland, while the mother of the baby was alarm calling and frantically running to and fro in an attempt to distract the killer warthog.
Tyrone explained that it was not wholly uncommon to find warthog (and a number of other unexpected species) feeding on carcasses or carrion at this time of year – the end of the dry season when wildlife is a little more stressed, and certain minerals and salts may not be as readily available in the bush. But to witness a warthog actively catch, kill and consume a baby impala was something that was very hard to explain. One wonders how often this may actually happen, going unseen.
We did feel sorry for the impala mother – who needs enemies when you’ve got friends like the warthog?!
Larger than South Africa’s Kruger National Park, Kafue National Park is the largest national park in Zambia and it is relatively unknown and unexplored. It is one of the last real wilderness areas left in Africa, and is home to a vital carnivore population including wild dog, lion, leopard and cheetah as well as one of southern Africa’s most important elephant populations.