July 2004

5 July 2004

An account by Peter Gaylard……

We left the camp on foot at daybreak on a cold clear winter’s morning. After walking for about thirty minutes, we decided to approach a tributary of the Kafue River by way of an open area of grassland. As we moved through the thigh-high grass, a sudden disturbance to our left caught our attention. A hippo appeared from a clump of bushes about 50 metres away from us and charged towards Chris, who had been leading the four of us. Chris unslung his rifle and, at the same time, yelled at us to run. I ran off in one direction while Mary and the game guard ran in another.

As I ran, I looked over my shoulder and saw the hippo continue his charge towards Chris. Realising I was out of immediate danger, I turned and watched as Chris cocked his rifle and aimed at the hippo. The hippo must have come to about 5 metres from Chris before it stopped and backed off and then moved away. We remained standing still and watched as the hippo gradually moved away and started grazing some distance off. The whole event must have taken less than a minute but it seemed much longer at the time.

We decided not to bother with the tributary to the Kafue River and resumed our hike in a direction well away from the hippo.

Chris’ only comment as we walked away was to ask why I had not taken a photograph of the charge which he had faced down. I replied that I was far too busy running for my life!

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