That embarrassing moment when, desperate to spot an animal in the Kruger National Park, any animal, you point into the distance and exclaim to the other members of your safari drive, including the ranger – “LION!”. Of course, what you’ve actually pointed at is a tree-stump lying at an odd angle with a really convincing tuft of grass swaying about just enough to pass as a tail. The ranger (or, in my case, a particularly observant German tourist) will inform you of this, much to the bemusement of all the other safari-goers and your reputation as a competent game-spotter will forever be in question. You can forget holding the light on night drives, it’s over for you.
If this has been you at any point in your amateur safari career, you’ll sympathise with this baby croc who mistook the ample back of a submerged (and rather large) hippo for the flat surface of a rock. Caught on camera guide, Richard Millar, the moment is definitely of the ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ sort. Richard says he was was just snapping some pics of the hippo in the water when he saw the crocodile emerge.
He continues, “All of a sudden this small crocodile crawled up one side of it and sat on its back. It must have thought it was a rock in the water and just chilled out on it for a while. They are cold-blooded creatures and need to rest in the sun. The hippo didn’t seem to mind and did nothing to shake the croc off. It moved a little but the crocodile remained there for about 15 minutes… It was a complete once in a lifetime situation. I am pretty sure that I will never get another photograph like that for the rest of my life.”
But apparently hippos and crocs are much more friendly than you’d think. Although hippos and crocodiles aren’t natural rivals, the giant vegetarians are just as dangerous (if not more-so, because of their size) as crocodiles. This clip of a baby hippo chewing on the scaly back of a croc goes to show that, for hippos, crocs aren’t that much of a threat. In fact, according to National Geographic, hippos will sometimes hang around the reptiles during feeding sessions – although the reasons for this are unclear.
Ever seen an unlikely animal encounter in the Kruger? Tell us about it in the comments!