Impala Rescued from a Muddy Fate

It was a hot afternoon at a Ngala Private Game Reserve near the Kruger National Park in South Africa, when Alex Tanet and her partner, Victor, set off on an unforgettable game drive. 

“Lee-Anne and Richard, our ranger and tracker, told us that an impala had been spotted stuck in the mud by a couple of the other rangers,” said Alex. “They asked if we wanted to check it out, to see if they could help.”

Photo by Alex Tanet

The Kruger National Park area is experiencing a bad drought at the moment, and many of the waterholes have dried up, so there is a possibility that the impala might have chosen the wrong path to the waterhole, desperate with thirst, and stumbled into the mud.

A few other rangers from the lodge were on the scene when Alex arrived, looking out at the struggling impala and deciding what to do next. After some deliberations, one of the rangers agreed to wade out into the mud to try and free the poor antelope.

“A pod of hippos were wallowing in the same waterhole not far from the impala,” said Alex, “which made the rescue attempt quite intense to watch.”

Photo by Alex Tanet

“The ranger managed to cross 7 to 8 meters of mud towards the impala, and at one point he was in as deep as his waist. We were all sitting on the edge of our seats watching what the hippos would do next.”

Photo by Alex Tanet

As the ranger got closer, the impala started to panic and tried to run free, but this just aggravated the situation and it seemed like he was sinking deeper into the mud.

The ranger got close enough to lasso the impala’s horns with a rope, and began to pull. To no avail. The poor animal was stuck fast. He put in all his strength to free the animal from the glue-like mud, but its head was sinking below the surface.

Photo by Alex Tanet

After an ultimate effort, he succeeded to free the animal and drag it across the waterhole and onto the shore.

But the impala lay motionless, still covered in mud.

Photo by Alex Tanet

The rangers rushed to clean its face with clear water, and with the last splash, the impala jumped up and started to run away.

Photo by Alex Tanet

“It was all very emotional,” said Alex. “With the danger of the hippos, and the thought that the impala might have died, everyone was quite tense. Then there was just relief as he ran off into the bush to continue his life.”

Photo by Alex Tanet
Photo by Alex Tanet

“It was touching to see the rangers so concerned about the well-being of a common old impala. And their happiness when he survived to live another day.

Original story source

Changing Planet

Meet the Author
Paul Steyn is a widely-published multi-media content producer from South Africa, and regular contributor to National Geographic News and blogs. Having guided throughout Africa for some years, he went on to edit a prominent travel and wildlife magazine, and now focuses on nature storytelling in all its forms. In 2013, he joined a team of researchers and Bayei on a 250km transect of the Okavango Delta on traditional mokoros. In 2016, he accompanied the Great Elephant Census team in Tanzania and broke the groundbreaking results on National Geographic News . Contact: Follow Paul on Twitter or Instagram