Watching two species interact is always intriguing, especially when the weaker of the two takes a stand. Photographer Mo Bassa captured this unique interaction between elephant and jackal that made us rethink which was bigger: The jackal – or the elephant?
On a fine day at Addo Elephant National Park, photographer Mo Bassa waited near the Hapoor waterhole, camera in hand. He’d been to this waterhole a few times previously but never stayed long due to a lack of activity. As this was a warm day, and it was likely that animals would frequent the waterhole, he decided to linger and see what he could capture.
“It was a hot day and large groups of elephants were coming to the waterhole to cool down. There seemed to be such mutual respect for one another, and a real sense of sharing the water with one another. One herd of elephants would arrive at the waterhole to drink and splash themselves, and in the distance you could see the next herd advancing.
“Interestingly the group at the water would slowly ease away as the next group approached. As a result, the waterhole would be empty for a short while, before the next group got there. During these vacant periods other animals would use the opportunity to approach the water, though very aware of the approaching elephants,” says Mo.
Mo tells us that during one of these quiet periods, a jackal that appeared to have an injured left back leg approached the waterhole. Shortly thereafter, two elephants arrived.
Mo saw the jackal and elephants drinking alongside one another peacefully for a short while, but at some point the elephants became territorial. “It was as if they decided they no longer wanted the jackal there. The ellies began to splash water in the direction of the jackal, at one point it appeared as though the jackal was soaked.”
The jackal made as though he was moving away a few times, but despite the elephants’ taunts, the jackal showed no sign of giving way. “They kept splashing but the jackal endured and continued to drink. Occasionally the younger elephant would ‘mock charge’ the jackal, but it would simply run a few metres away before returning to its drinking spot. It was interesting to watch these two species, so different in size interacting in this way,” says Mo.
Mo says he had been at the waterhole for around 20 minutes when the jackal finally decided to retreat. “Though it’s difficult to be certain of exactly what happened, my sense was that perhaps because the jackal was injured, it was determined to stay at the waterhole to hydrate.” The jackal may be nowhere near as big as the elephant, but there was nothing small about its fighting spirit.
Pictures taken with Canon EOS 7D and Tamron SP 70-300 lens.