27 April 2017 by Johan van der Walt

Beware the giant feathered monster. It was raining when we entered the Kruger National Park at Pafuri Gate recently. I saw her walking slowly in the distance coming towards us around a corner just before the bridge over the Luvuvhu River. It was only when she saw us that things started to happen. From quite a distance she started running towards us and suddenly stopped in front of the car. 

Her feathers were soaked from the rain. She did a weird kind of dance with her head and neck in all places, up and down, with feathers shaking and then she stood still and looked at us. Then she proceeded with a ridiculous little jig and danced her way around the car until she reached my window that was closed as it was raining. She looked at me through the rain-streaked window and then suddenly took a bite at me, but luckily the window was closed as that was a powerful peck, so powerful it reverberated through the car as she struck the window. 

I was glad that window was closed, because the force of that bite was really formidable. She then looked at me as if to say that was nothing, watch this. Then she started pecking with earnest at my window, trying to get at me, all in rapid succession. She got so frustrated that she started pecking herself possibly in confusion. But then she proceeded with a new bout of pecking. I decided that was enough, because it sounded like a hammer when she struck the window. 
I drove off as I was worried about the window cracking with that force, as well as the fact that she could hurt herself as well. In the mirror of my car I watched her shaking and dancing as she came running after me. I still don’t know what her story was. Maybe she wanted to get in the car and take over my driving, perhaps she wanted a lift or maybe she wanted to get into the car out of the rain. I really don’t know because I didn’t even feel like starting a conversation with this unfriendly creature and her nasty habits.
So, for all of you driving that route near Pafuri – beware the nasty, big-beaked, feathered monster. 
Article and photos ©Johan van der Walt
Wildlife South Africa®