The circle of life:

While working out in the bush, we very quickly learn to expect to be surprised by the inner working of Mother Nature. Nothing is a certainty! However, there is one concept for sure that we get our heads around fairly quickly. The cycle of life will happen throughout all niches, ecosystems and environments whether we are there to witness it or not. Animals die so that others can live. At times we may be faced with some difficult sightings and are confronted with the harsh reality of life – and death – in the wild

Let me introduce myself, my name is Deon Wessels (@deonwesselsphotography), and I am the Head Guide at Chitwa Chitwa Game Reserve in the Sabi Sands.

Armed with extensive knowledge and understanding of the intricacies of each species and their will to survive, I was no longer watching something occur second hand, but rather experiencing it first-hand. Each story unfolds in front of you where you are also engaged in an environment on many different levels and senses. It holds you and captivates you so deeply that you can’t look away, because you are part of it.

On the 10th of June 2022, this amazing story unfolded in the Sabi Sands, a lone elephant bull passed away on our property of old age. Which was devoured by the local pride of lions (Nkuhumas) and the 2 Pride males (Avocas).

As the local pride tucked into the elephant carcass for 3 days or so, the hyenas were never far off. As soon as they got the gap, the clan moved in and started a feeding frenzy, watching carefully from the safety of the Marula’s sat a committee of vultures.

It goes without saying, that hyenas are undoubtedly coupled with death. And rightfully so, as they are found lurking around carcasses awaiting the opportunity to steal whatever they can. As scavengers, they play a crucial role in the ecosystem by being the final consumer and returning nutrients back into the ground.

On this particular day, one hyena got hold of the foot of the elephant, which was eaten off, something I have never witnessed in all my life in the bushveld, it was so neatly chewed off, that it almost looked as if someone had cut it off with a chainsaw.

Their main diet consists of carrion (decaying flesh) and due to their powerful digestive systems, they are able to digest this putrid food they prevent the spread of diseases in the bushveld. Cleaning up carcasses and recycling every last nutrient.  The stomach acids of both the hyenas and vultures not only digest the decaying meat and shards of bone but also kills off the bacteria and disease preventing them from being harmed.

While hyenas, when given the opportunity, they aggressively and furiously devour whatever they can quite literally bite on. They eat incredibly quickly and have strong stomach acids that are able to dissolve bone in their stomachs. Often when hyenas are finished with a kill, there is almost no trace of the animal, besides the skull or horns which remain. People often assume that hyenas don’t hunt, but in actual fact, they can be proficient hunters even using bodies of water to assist them in their chase.

I get to witness many unbelievable sightings on a daily basis, but this sighting will be one of the most memorable ones.

It’s never nice seeing the old perish, but this bull had a good life, and born from the earth, returned to the soils of his birthplace.

The circle of life.

When driving around in the Kruger National Park, one of Africa’s best wildlife sanctuaries, remember these words “Assume nothing, expect everything.”

The camera I use is Canon EOS 850D, and the lens I prefer to use is my Sigma 70-200mm 1:2.8 II.

My Instagram page is as follows: