The dry season had come early in North Luangwa National Park. Located in the North of Zambia this dense bushland contains a plethora of small waterholes wherein large hippo populations shelter during the wetter seasons. This year however water sources were becoming scarce far earlier than the norm, this led to hippos being extremely protective of the remaining pools. While this may not be fun for many an animal seeking relief from the dry heat of the bush it was perfect for a photographer.
Seeing my approach to the water the resident bull and several others exploded into a display of raw power. They burst from the water maw gaping, white tusks gleaming in the afternoon sun, deep hums shattering the relative quiet of the bush. It made a memorable afternoon. For hippos to be so overtly aggressive in the water to those outside requires significant pressure put on their habitat. Sunday, one of the guides at Buffalo Camp from Shiwa Safaris, put it rightly when he said that just a few weeks earlier or later and we would have never seen the magnificent display. As the first leg of the coast to coast tour North Luangwa National Park, and Buffalo Camp was an extraordinary experience, and this most certainly the highlight.
Additional Images of this incredible afternoon, the one shown above being the last one taken as the setting sun shone directly upon the hippo pool;
Earlier in the day
Later on in the day, as they hippo's become increasingly aggressive.
Explosive beginningBefore coming much closer there are displays of power as soon as the group splits up. Most impressive was this individual who would go below water only to break the surface with a below, teeth on full display.