After a crispy cold evening game drive we returned back to camp. Had a lovely dinner on the deck around an open fire, stargazing and having the usual hyena clan around the camp. Consisting of about 6 individuals including 2 sub adults. After packing up and getting ready for bed after a long days travel, i was called by Rahul (a first time greater Kruger safari goer and young photographer).
With excitement and a sense of trying to be calm in his delivery he uttered to me “The Hyenas are trying to kill an Impala at the deck”. I quietly made my way to the deck not knowing what to expect. When I got there I could see several Hyenas searching the area but none in a particular direction. They were all over the place. Another witness to the chase mentioned that the Impala ran by not very fast and tripped over a rock before crashing into the ground with the Hyenas in close pursuit behind it. Breaking its horn in the process.
The Impala obviously got away…for now that is. I advised everyone to be quiet and just wait it out a bit as I waited for a distress call from the Impala and the excitement vocalization from the Hyenas should they grasp their canines into the Impala!
Suddenly, a few minutes later we heard an animal thrashing through the bushes…and this beautiful Impala ram, except for a broken and bleeding horn, came straight towards us and stopped dead a few meters from us. I would say at 3 meters most this Impala froze, facing us. With its tail between its legs and a shiver through its body from the adrenaline and fear pumping through its body this animal seemed as if it knew it’s time has come and as a last resort approached human settlement as refuge. Two Large Hyenas ran at high speed passing the Impala and having no idea it was just a few meters away.
At this point I asked one of the guests to remain dead still and keep an eye on the Impala as I ran to call the others not wanting them to miss out on what was going to be a definite kill unfold right before our eyes. By the time i got back to the scene the Impala had moved slightly forward and positioned itself just under the deck and away from any light. The searching Hyenas now all scattered through the bush suddenly went dead silent. Not moving at all. As if they followed a signal form the clan leader. The air was filled with suspense as I still thought it was only a matter of time before one of these 6 Hyenas would locate this Impala only a few meters away. A sub adult then took a few steps forward towards the Impala before standing dead still once again, still not seeing its prey right in front of it. This went on for about 10mins before I made the call to the guests that we should wait inside for a while giving both sides a fair game chance of either a definite feast or a miraculous escape.
After waiting inside now for another 10 minutes I went out quietly to have a look. Surprisingly the Impala now moved out from the deck and was dead centre to the end of the swimming pool. Meaning that it was completely cornered at this stage. With nowhere to go, I went back in and told the guests that it is now only a matter of a few moments before we hear a distress call. Much to my astonishment going out for a final inspection a few minutes later, there were no Hyenas or Impala to be seen! The Impala clearly got away.
This is the splendour about nature. We can never be certain how things will unfold, even when we are most sure. For some reason, that night, 6 Hyenas armed with acute senses such as a great sense of smell and night vision could not locate an Impala about 4 meters away that was almost waiting to meet its faith.
Numerous kills have taken place very close to the camp through the years including a smashed window by an Impala trying to get away from a pack of wild dogs, an Impala nearly entering the main entrance door to the camp also chased by Impala. If this door was not closed in time the Impala could well have entered the building, and a Kudu killed by lions.