Sara • 11/23/2023
Of course, with the imminent threat of rhinos becoming extinct in the wild, these amazing creatures have jumped to the forefront of guests wish lists. The white rhino is the most common of the two species for us to see and in most cases when we do see them they are going on with their daily routines, grazing and sleeping. On occasion though, we do get to witness some interaction between rhinos, which is rather rare.
On this particular day we had left the lodge and we hadn’t driven more than 15 minutes when we found some fresh male leopard tracks and we immediately put on our tracking caps and started the search. The tracks were so fresh you could almost see the dust still settling around them. Within about 5 minutes we had located our big dominant male with his one blind eye and he was moving around marking territory. After following him for about 20 minutes we left him to his business and headed out to find something else.
Not even 300 metres from where we left the leopard we could see three rhino in an open area with a herd of zebra and wildebeest. We left the road and made our way across the open area to get a closer look at the rhinos. Normally we can get within 20 metres of these creatures without them so much as lifting their head, but today was not a normal day. The 3 rhinos consisted of a mother and her calf and a male which was trying to court the mother. The male immediately recognised us as a threat and turned, dropped his head and launched all 2 tonnes of body towards the vehicle. He started to charge from about 50 metres away and within seconds was almost on top of the vehicle. My tracker and I started bashing on the bodywork of the vehicle to stop the charge and fortunately he abruptly stopped no more than 5 metres from us.
Everyone in the vehicle took a deep breath filled with relief as he turned round and went back to his courtship of the female. From a safe distance we watched as he kept making advances on the female and she kept rebutting him! Her low level growls and mock charges enthralled us and also explained why he was in such a bad mood! We sat with them for about an hour watching the to and fro action as he tried to woo the female and she kept playing hard to get! This courtship can last anything up to 3 weeks till she allows him to mate with her, thus ensuring that he is the biggest strongest male in the area.
Once we left the rhinos we were on our way to have sundowners when we found a troop of baboons grooming each other and enjoying some social bonding before they climbed into their sycamore fig and bed down for the evening. There is something special about watching these primates’ interactions. The similarities between them and us are uncanny and the babies can be too cute for words. What an amazing day in the African bush!