Tanda Tula - buffalo taking in the bath in the Greater Kruger, South Africa
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Not such a water-wise buffalo!

Chad Cocking | Wildlife

The 22nd of March is National Water Day. Tanda Tula’s environmentally in-tune management is constantly putting emphasis on the need to minimise water wastage, which brought back memories of a rather bizarre night outside my bedroom window; and no, before you get the wrong idea, this story is indeed suitable for family reading!

Before we get onto my story, we have to spend a moment appreciating how important water is to not only the human race, but to all life on earth.  Have you ever tried to imagine life without water?  It’s a scary thought, and I quiver at the idea of one day having to sip on a gin & tonic, sans ice cubes, because there is no water left in the world. I envisage that I might not even have enough moisture for the tears that I would no doubt cry!  The only good thing is, that without water, there probably wouldn’t be many frogs left to come and scare the living daylights out of me.

Tanda Tula - gin and tonic on a safari sundowner in South Africa

It is easy to sit and joke about it now, but the world’s dwindling water supplies are a major global concern, and in the not too distant future, it is likely that wars will be fought over access to water rather than oil.  So wise water management is a must to conserve what precious water resources we have in the world today. Otherwise fresh, clean water flowing freely from our taps might well be a thing of the past – just look at what happened in Cape Town two years ago.

Tanda Tula - a dry waterhole in South Africa

That point brings me neatly back to the story that started this ramble, a tap!  Well, it’s more interesting than that, I promise.  A couple of years back, I woke up in the middle of the night and heard something feeding outside of my bedroom window. I jumped up to have a look, and in the moonlight, I could see a huge buffalo bull eating the grass two metres from my window!  It was a magical scene that put a huge smile on my face; one that lasted all of three seconds as I had no sooner hit the pillow and back into a deep slumber.  It couldn’t have been that deep mind you, as I was soon awoken by the sound of running water outside my window.  The only time I ever heard this tap was when my neighbour was tending to her garden but seeing as it was 2am in the morning – and that she wasn’t the world’s most enthusiastic gardener – I was quite sure that it wasn’t her watering the herbs.

I stood up (the eagerness to ‘jump up’ had now left me on realising that I only had 2 hours of sleep left) and walked over to the window, drew back the curtains, and stood there in a state of disbelief; here, in front of me, was one of the most bizarre scenes I had seen.  A buffalo standing drinking water from my tap.  After checking to make sure that it was really only water in my glass, I looked back to see the buffalo still standing drinking from the open tap.  Knowing just how much they can drink a day, I wasn’t going to hang around, so I went back to bed and fell asleep for a while longer.

Tanda Tula - a buffalo drinking water in the Greater Kruger

The sound of running water was still keeping me company, so when I awoke for the third time, I couldn’t believe that the buffalo was still there drinking. I went to check, but all that remained of the scene was a solitary tap.  I was quite mortified that the lazy bugger left without closing the tap (while I did my best to stick to 2-minute showers), leaving me having to get out of bed in the middle of the night to do it for him. Being a buffalo, I wasn’t really in a position to argue with him and tell him what I really thought of his awful water conservation practises, was I?

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