April 25,  4:45 pm     I spot the sitatunga feeding at 60 meters off route bord de mer.  She is meandering through inundated savanna in the late afternoon, just as the sun begins to release its intense grip on the landscape.  The graceful horizontal curve of her back and two large kangaroo ears betray her location tucked down into the two-meter high grasses bordering the marecage.

Quietly, I clarify a plan for the Land Rover to continue another 200 meters down the track after I exit the vehicle.  A vehicle stopping close by nearly always results in the departure of wildlife.  As the Land Rover approaches a gallery of vegetation I slip out, crossing a narrow strip of dry savanna while keeping the vegetation between myself and the sitatunga.  I am soon in water to my knees.  Tepid water, heated by the afternoon sun, fills my Wellingtons.  She is feeding away from me, to the north, behind several patches of vegetation.  Inching closer while keeping a tree between us, I sort through the leaves trying to re-establish her location.  I am startled to see her immediately behind the tree, not quite twenty meters away.  She is staring back, all ears and eyes, and appears unable to make out my threat.  Her curiosity finally gets the best of her, and she circles the tree to come into view 15 meters to my right.

a female sitatunga feeding in a submerged savanna

Cocking her ears with every shutter-click of my camera, she eventually picks up my scent for she bounds back behind the tree in a great spray of water and stops, apparently to clarify the information flooding her senses.

sitatunga on inundated savanna, departing for cover

I was expecting her to bolt straightaway and I push through the water around the tree in haste to photograph her departure.  Surprising her a second time, she flees with a loud warning snort, loping down the ribbon of marecage.  Churning eruptions of water fill the air with each leap, her commotion fading across the savanna as she heads for the cover of nearby gallery.

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