On the 24th of April 2019, Mr Mike Johnson, a 73-year-old retiree, came across this struggle for survival at a dam on the side of the road going between Skukuza and Satara. In his own words he tells us of his experience as he played witness to this battle of wills between a crocodile that had latched onto the leg of a waterbuck and the waterbuck’s efforts to escape;
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“We were driving towards Satara and stopped at the dam to have a look. There was a splash at the far end of the dam. Thinking it was hippo, we did not pay much attention to it at first, but when a group of waterbuck appeared seemingly agitated, and we saw that one was struggling with something, I attached a 500mm lens to my camera to get a better look what was happening.
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Through the lens, I saw it was a crocodile that had been dragged out of the water by a waterbuck, away from where I assumed it was caught, and that the crocodile was trying to pull the buck back into the water. Not being ready with the camera on a gimbal, it was very difficult at that distance to hold the camera steady and find the best image in the Canon viewfinder.
As the waterbuck tired, the croc managed to pull it back to the water’s edge, where the buck lay still for a while. After a short breather, the waterbuck then made a break for it when the croc changed its grip. The buck managed to hobble away but had a broken front leg. We stayed for a while to watch the other waterbuck checking out what had gone on.
“We were excited to see the battle for survival but at the same time sad to see the waterbuck immobilised. We had to book into Satara, so we left the scene when there was no further action.”
There were also a few passing vehicles at the scene and one foreign group stopped to ask Mr. Johnson what they were looking at, but this was already after the waterbuck had escaped.
When asked how rare this sighting was for Mr. Johnson, he replied; “Very rare!” Then shared some advice for anyone visiting the Kruger National Park. “Always have your camera ready and steady when you go out of camp, as you never know what you will see!”