Spending time in the bush and witnessing nature at its most raw means that you begin to appreciate the part that death plays in the cycle of life. Survival of the fittest is a necessary natural population control occurrence, leading to only the strongest and most adept of the species surviving to pass on their genes. Despite understanding this though, when a situation arrives where there is hope of survival, the majority of people tend to support the underdog and hope for a favourable outcome. This is one just story…

A little while back we arrived at a pan and were viewing a large herd of buffalo. We watched them drink and roll around in the mud before slowly sauntering away to feed in the open grasslands. It was only when the commotion subsided that we noticed a very young buffalo calf that was stuck in the mud. The rest of the herd had already moved off and just the mother of the calf remained by its side.


The almost perfectly camouflaged buffalo calf.

We had at this time been at the pan for over an hour, but rather than staying with the herd, we waited with the calf, rooting for its survival. The calf attempted tirelessly to free itself from the suffocating mud and with each movement it seemed to envelop itself ever deeper and deeper. At one point it let out a loud distress call, which resulted in several other buffalo returning to the scene but they to could do nothing to help the calf.


The buffalo cow gives her calf some support and encouragement.

The exhausted, yet persistent calf continued to fight and eventually its determination paid off. Under the watchful eye of its mother, it eventually managed to pry itself from the quagmire and stumbled to its feet.


Slowly but surely the calf made some ground…


The young calf eventually stumbles to its feet!


An extremely relieved mother and calf slowly move off to join the rest of the herd grazing in the distance.

Shortly after, the mother and calf rejoined the rest of the herd grazing in the distance, safe and sound despite its new coating of mud. We continued home, grateful that we had been privileged enough to watch this little buffalo struggle for survival and elated that this time the underdog had managed to succeed.

About the Author

Callum Gowar

Field Guide

Growing up in Cape Town, the opposite end of South Africa from its main wildlife areas, didn't slow Callum down when embarking on his ranger training at Londolozi at the start of 2015. He had slowly begun moving north-east through the country anyway, ...

View Callum's profile


on Stuck In The Mud: A Happy Ending

Join the conversationJoin the conversation


What a great story. So happy the calf made it out alive and well! This made my morning a little bit brighter 🙂

Mary Moy

Poor baby, glad he made it.

Jeff Rodgers

A great story and an even greater example of why a brief sighting and then, ‘what’s next, what’s next, what’s next’ is not often the right plan if the guests want a truly exceptional game drive.

Wendy Hawkins

Oh that is a Happy Ending to a very determined little Buff! Thanks for waiting with it Callum 🙂 Enjoy the rest of the week & look forward to more pictures soon 🙂

Jill Larone

I love a happy ending and I’m so relieved the little guy made it out….poor little calf! It must be so hard to sit and watch and not feel like jumping out of the Land Rover and pulling him out…..I know, you must let life play out for these beautiful animals (and especially keep out of the way of Mommy Buffalo!)…but still, it must be really difficult sometimes.

Andrea Tucson AZ

Great story its nice to see a happy ending once in a while Callum you have the coolest jobs ever and your very handsome can’t wait to see more from you

Connect with Londolozi

Follow Us

Sign up for our Newsletters

One moment...
Add Profile