The Battle at Kruger must be the most watched wildlife video on YouTube. With well over 75 million views this epic standoff between a herd of around a hundred Cape Buffalo and a pride of lion - with a cameo appearance by a crocodile - is a true life-or-death struggle. As the guide says at the end of the video: “I’ve never seen anything like this”!
That is one of the magical aspects of being on safari; you never know what you’ll come across when you set off on that morning game drive. Animal behavior unpredictable and even safari veterans still have sightings that get the heart pumping.
It might not be big game battling it out, but just witnessing the speed and agility of a predator or amusing antics of a baby elephant are moments that will stay with you long after your safari has ended. And it's moments like these that were captured in the five videos below, all of which were filmed in reserves across South Africa.
1. Thandi’s Calf, the Rhino That Should Never Have Been Born
In 2012 two rhinos, Thembo and Thandi, hit the headlines. These beautiful animals had been attacked by poachers, who hacked off their horns and left them for dead. Only Thandi managed to survive her injuries and last month (on 13 January 2015) she gave birth to a calf!
This is such an inspiring story, not only because you see Thandi fully recovered with her adorable healthy calf but also for the clear compassion and dedication shown by those fighting to save the rhino. The video was shot in Kariega Game Reserve in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province.
2. Leopard Leaps Up and Catches an Impala in Mid-Air
MalaMala, the largest privately owned reserve in South Africa, has a well-earned reputation for phenomenal Big 5 game viewing. This video was captured by Martha van Rensburg during a photographic predator safari in MalaMala.
At the start of the video you can just make out the well camouflaged leopard lying in wait in the long grass. To the right, just off camera, is a herd of impala. The guide has his vehicle perfectly positioned to capture all the action as it unfolds.
3. The Immense Power and Grace of a Large Male Leopard
This well-filmed clip shows the incredible strength and agility of a leopard as it drags its kill up high into a Marula tree. It’s amazing that this big cat manages to move from branch to branch, and at one point even leap across to a more suitable spot to enjoy its meal.
This video was filmed in Londolozi, a private Sabi Sands Reserve famous for consistently good leopard sightings. I must admit that initially I was concerned about the strength of the spotlight used, but then read that an infra-red filter ensures that the lepards’s eyesight is not affected during filming and the light is not used when the animal hunts.
4. African Wild Dog Pack with a Dozen Puppies
This footage was filmed up in Madikwe, a vast reserve in South Africa’s North West Province and one of the best places to see the highly endangered wild dog. At 10 minutes this is by far the longest of the five clips but kept me interested as I watched the pups being groomed, playing, feeding and a sweet moment when one pup fighte the urge to nap.
A social creature, the wild dog lives in dens and the whole pack takes care of the young. There are a dozen 6-week-old pups in this pack and since each wild dog has its own unique coat pattern (rather like a fingerprint) no two pups look exactly the same.
5. Elephant Babies Enjoying Their Mud Bath
There are a number of videos of elephants helping their young out of tricky situations, but I opted instead for this little-viewed clip as it certainly made me smile. I know I shouldn’t anthropomorphise, but I can’t help feeling that this guy is having fun as he waves his trunk and flings the dirt about. Then again, elephant are possibly my favourite sightings and I could happiy watch a herd for hours.
You’ll see that this clip was filmed at Shamwari, another private reserve in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province. Along with luxury accommodation, Shamwari also runs a volunteer programme for those who want to get involved in game monitoring, land rehabilitation, research and alien plant control.
How about you, are there any wildlife videos that have really made an impression on you? If so, why not add them to the comments section below.