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In Africa the sun tends to warm up very quickly, and it gets very hot - from 9:00am onwards the temperature starts to reach a peak. In the heat of the day animals often tend to be lethargic and want to use as little energy as possible, with their respiratory system working hard to try and keep them cool. The animals will often try various ways to try and cool themselves down in the blistering heat; some will find shady areas to lie down for the rest of the day, while others will find a nearby mud pan and perform what we call mud-wallowing, whereby they will roll in the mud and water to cool down their temperature, and to get the mud on their skin as a form of sunscreen. There is often an influx in parasites along with the heat, and the mud acts as a repellent against these parasites when the animals cover their skin with it. But nothing cools you down better than an afternoon drink, and a little bit of a swim. On an afternoon safari, with the sun performing at its best, we made our way to a waterhole where we had the privilege to find a group of African Buffalo playing around in the water. They had obviously come down for an afternoon drink, and were now licking their lips as they sipped up the ever so 'clean' water. Although the water didn't appear all that clean once we had a closer look at what they were doing. The Buffalo would first bath and roll in the water to try and get rid of some parasites and dirt. Thereafter they will treat themselves to a refreshment by drinking that very same water. This unhygienic bovine can weigh up to 900Kgs and is one of the most dangerous of the Big 5, as Buffalo are renowned for charging unexpectedly - however, they have to be provoked before performing the unthinkable. These massive, cow-like animals are quite fearsome when charging and can run up to 54 km/h. They simply put their heads lower to the ground, horns facing up, and run at full speed to the intended target. It is not known to everyone that the 'Big 5' received their 'title', so to speak, from being the top 5 most dangerous animals to hunt. This makes sense as Buffalo are often provoked, by people hunting it, and it regularly happens that the hunter becomes the 'hunted' with the fearsome charge of the African Buffalo. Male Buffalo are rather easily distinguished from females using the horn size and thickness. Both male and female Buffalo have horns, however, the males' horns are a lot thicker at the base of the head, and it almost looks as though they are wearing a helmet, as the horn runs across the forehead, from one side to the other. Females have thinner horns, and one can often see some hair at the top of their foreheads, where the horn congregation will end and not run all the way through from one side to the other. Something interesting though is that with both sexes the horns' diameter can grow exceedingly large, and this often confuses one in thinking that the largest horn is the male, but to the contrary it might even be a female. What we found intriguing about the buffalo having their afternoon drink was how they would use their horns to loosen up some of the mud at the bottom of the river bank, in order to roll in it and for it to cling on to their bodies. This would allow them to cool down. After having their fun in the mud, the herd slowly started moving on, and looking for greener pastures to go and graze after their afternoon drink. We enjoyed the spectacle of the 'hygienic' habits of the Buffalo, and returned back to the lodge to have some drinks of our own. Not only did we have to cool down, but also settle down after all the excitement of an afternoon drink, and many enjoyed the luxury of the lodge swimming pool. Ranger Sean Jones Shambala Private Game Reserve