This man appeared while we were digging out cape buffalo from Maasai waterhole in Maasailand. The Maasai in the area dug large holes to reach the water level and would create makeshift barriers of thorned bushes around them. It had been a particularly dry summer and so the buffalo would ram their way through the defences to get to the water at night. The holes were deeper than usual and the buffalo would often find themselves stuck in solitary, wet confinement until the Maasai herders arrived in the morning to fetch water.

Man and creature were both surprised as each other to meet at dawn and we would be radioed to help. The Maasai live harmoniously with the animals around them but the buffalo in this area are some of the most aggressive throughout Africa and, despite being exhausted from their own attempts at scaling back out the well, they would charge the earth walls around them while we planned how to free them.

This old herder would always appear at the scene and position himself on a high rock near the hole. Unlike the younger Maasai, he had been around enough buffalo to know their power. When the buffalo was finally pulled out with a rope, it would look for the nearest target. The younger men would then flee to find the nearest tree or rock as the tired buffalo lumbered after them. The old man was already safe. He stayed on his rock, propped up on his stick, always watching with the same intense stare as the other Maasai scattered to safety.

Henry Hiscox.jpg


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