Given that its bird hide is a renowned relaxation spot, Kruger’s Lake Panic may seem like something of a misnomer. But in 2016, when Christoph Bühler photographed a showdown between three fearsome crocodiles, he showed that, on occasion, this watering hole lives up to its name. By Nell Hofmeyr
The Bühler family’s visit to the hide, which is located near Skukuza Rest Camp in the south of the Kruger National Park, started like any other. For a short time, they enjoyed the quiet pleasure of being shoreside, taking in the lush scenery and observing nature undisturbed.
But as is always the case in the wild, it’s wise to expect the unexpected. Within seconds, the tranquil riverbank transformed into a battleground for the park’s fierce waterway predators.
“All had been very serene and calm when suddenly a huge crocodile lunged out of the water with what looked like the remains of an impala in its jaws. It violently shook its prey from side to side and did several death rolls,” Christoph recalls.
With a front row seat to all the action, he watched the crocodile thrash about in the water – making sure to capture its every twist and turn. But, as it turned out, he and his family were not the only ones paying attention to the splashy scene.
Two fellow crocs, a large adult and a younger one, had caught wind of the commotion.
The adult challenged the first, presumably hoping for a piece of the prey. Sadly for the challenger, it was no match due to its smaller size and soon stepped back in defeat.
But losing out to the bigger beast didn’t go down particularly well.
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“Having been put into its place it then turned on the younger crocodile, chasing it across the sandbank immediately in front of the hide. The speed at which the grumpy crocodile chased the youngster was breathtaking,” he says.
A grumpy crocodile, indeed.