Wounded Buffalo

02 January 2011

Today it rained so hard we couldn't hear the words to the old John Wayne classic western, Rainbow Valley, that was playing on our laptop as we took a break after lunch. I think Kristen was quite relieved when I switched it off.

There's nothing like a flash of lightening and the booming CRACK right over your head when you're in a tent under a big tamarind tree to raise the hair on your arms. There's just nowhere to go. It's a feeling that needs to be experienced to increase someone's awe of nature.

More than just wild animals and birdsong and the sun on your face, nature is a powerful beast. Sometimes after one of these big ones you step outside and feel like a survivor of something hugely catostrophic, then you look around and see the sun and it's all good again.

I think that's how the old bull buff soaking in the river this morning must have felt as well. Happy to be alive. He stood up to stare malevolently at the me. He had some deep wounds on his back and flanks, including cuts at the base of his tail and long red scratch marks down his back. Lions had tried, and so far failed to bring him down. His wounds might weaken him to the point he will have to face the pride again, or he may be fortunate enough to heal and live on.

Gone are the days when all biologists scoff at the idea of animals having emotions. Some still try to hold on to that idea, saying animals don't value their lives, but if you watch them long enough it just doesn't make sense to believe that. The lengths to which wildilfe will go to survive are incredible. They do not go down without a fight. Although the lions were nowhere to be seen that morning, the evidence of their failed attack was obvious and his elevated state of agitation was obvious too. Everything about him challenged me and anything else to dare to try to bring him down. He was a survivor, for now, and he was happy to be alive. That is, as much as a buffalo is capable of being happy.

Click to enlarge. One of his wounds is visible on his right flank.

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