Words by Bryan Havemann, image by Chris Galliers
A Crash of Rhinos
Early one morning, walking with a trail group on the banks of the Nwaswitsaka River in the south-western corner of the Kruger National Park, we stopped in our tracks to listen to a big male lion roaring not more than 500 metres from where we were standing. It was a primeval feeling, knowing that the lion was walking towards us loudly proclaiming his territory, and we were on foot, enjoying this special moment.
The sun had just broken free from the earth’s embrace when I heard a noise close by that sounded like an animal lapping water, and sent my trails assistant, Moses, to investigate. He walked about 20 metres, stood dead still, and gestured for me to come closer. Because he seemed so relaxed, I sauntered over casually, and almost had a heart attack when I saw two rhino at close quarters.
An adult black rhino cow was suckling a calf not much bigger than a Rottweiler while chomping down on a Tamboti tree − this was the sound that I had initially thought was water being lapped up. The mother and the calf were facing away from us, but the wind was blowing from them to us. At such close quarters, you are well within a rhino’s attack circle and the chances of their charging you are very high; especially with black rhino that generally have a pretty bad temper.