The Blue Wildebeest bull in this video shows how much fun and joy there can be in a good face-rubbing session in the mud.
Blue Wildebeest are one of the most common plains game species found in Southern Africa. They are well known for their migratory habits in massive herds and are a significant food source for the large carnivores in Africa such as lion, hyena, and crocodile. The Wildebeest has also been voted over the years into the rankings of the top five ‘ugliest animals in Africa’ , right through to a place in the top five ‘least intelligent animals in Africa’ category. Majority of the time when you see these animals, they are either feeding, walking, or drinking water. With this general perception, it does not put the Wildebeest at the top of the list as the most wanted or excited animals to see in the African wild while on safari. But you can imagine the total excitement when you do find a wildebeest doing something totally different and unexpected. During a safari in the Kruger National Park, we came across a small group of male wildebeest stand around a nearly dried up pan.
We thought the wildebeest were there for their daily drink but we were totally surprised by their fascinating behaviour that most people never get to see. These wildebeest males were not around this muddy wallow for a drink, but instead were there to enjoy a good old face rubbing in the mud. It was really entertaining to watch how the leader of the herd was having the time of his life while shoving his face in the mud. The wildebeest looked he was going crazy, first digging up the mud before repeatedly shoving and rubbing his face in the mud. This was fascinating to watch and probably the longest time I have ever spend watching these animals. While this behaviour seems very amusing, there is also a great explanation for why this bull was so adamantly rubbing his face in the mud. Wildebeest are territorial and a typical territory is usually positioned in an open area and nearby water. Wildebeest have pedal glands, glands between their hooves, and they rake the soil with their feet to release the scent into the soil or mud. They also release this smell when they walk. Dominant bulls such as the one seen in this video, will engage in this type of face rubbing to transmit glandular secretions from below their eyes. It was incredible to realize that all this amusing face rubbing in the mud was part of marking his territory. What a fascinating manner to mark your territory indeed coming from an animal many do not find so fascinating on an ordinary day in the African wild.