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  • Before I went to Africa to observe wildlife, I imagined all kinds of animals drinking peacefully side - by - side together at a waterhole.

    I never saw that happen.

    I never even caught a leopard or lion drinking. Once, late at night, I saw elephants drinking at one end of the hole and a lonely rhino at the other end. Usually the rhino waited until the elephants were done. That could take several hours. Once the elephants - or rhinos - left, the giraffes moved in.

    Even among elands, oryx, kudus, zebras and other antelopes, just the species that do NOT compete for the same kind of food drink together at the waterhole. Among the others there is a hierarchy that seems to depend on size and strength.

    I was shocked to discover that there is zero democracy in nature, it is all about hierarchy. Each individual animal is supposed to know and respect its rank in the inter - species - as well as in the inner - species - and - group - rank.

    Some do try to rebel or to cheat, but whoever challenges the hierarchy is in danger of being pinched, bitten or even eaten: I watched a springbok chase a jackal from the waterhole and shortly after that jackal chasing away a group of guinea hens. The latter had to wait until Mr. Jackal had his belly filled, then the hens were allowed to reappear.

    I wished it would be different.

    Photography by Kiki
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