I looked at my watch and sucked in my breath. It was already 5:30 p.m. In an hour, the sun would be gone. But it was our last night, we were catching a bush plane out in the morning and I desperately wanted to see that rhino! I gripped the seat in front of me firmly and said, “Just how fast will this thing go?” Kata’s eyes lit up.
“Ah, you want the Ferrari safari!” He hit the gas pedal hard, and we were off along a bush trail at breakneck speed. It occurred to me briefly that we could all die, thrown from the open Land Rover by one of the ruts or bumps but what a way to go.
We slewed around a curve, and Kata braked sharply...
The Land Rover’s radio crackled and after a brief, staccato conversation our driver Kata turned to us. “Another group have found a rhino.” I bounced forward in excitement. This is why I had come to Sanctuary Chief’s Camp, I wanted to see the rhino, which was the last member of the Big Five (elephant, lion, leopard, rhino and water buffalo) that was still on my bucket list. “There’s just one problem.” Kata’s forehead creased with worry. “They are an hour away.” We were at the far end of the concession; we’d been hot on the trail of a pack of spotted wild dog.
This big fellow (above) stood there, all four feet planted firmly. We looked at him. He looked at us. And then lumbered away and we were off again. Branches of thorny acacia whipped the sides of the vehicle threatening to rip open an exposed arm or leg ... and a tower of giraffes examined us quizzically as we shot past.
A mere forty minutes later, while it was still light, we came upon this beautiful rhinoceros (below).
I talked a bit in this post about the brutality inflicted upon these animals (populations have been hunted down from approximately 500,000 at the beginning of the 20th century to approximately 29,000 today). Rhinoceros are currently being moved from Kruger National Park into Botswana because of the strength of the anti-poaching police in the Botswana game reserves.
It’s not a perfect solution, but it might be the break the rhinoceros need. I've put an article up on my Facebook page that makes interesting reading. But for now, jubilant that we had spent some time with one of these amazing creatures, we returned to our camp. All that we wanted now was to find leopard. We’d had brief sightings of leopard several times in Tanzania but so far they had eluded us here. We had one early morning game drive left.
I'm Kirsten Marion. After a series of life-changing events, my husband and I decided to spend the kids’ inheritance and see as much of the world as possible. Our bible? A Thousand Places to See Before You Die.