Having rested up we started moving back to the vehicle. I took the group up the bank of the river, and then followed the river down stream. We had not moved far before my back up spotted a rhino standing in the river. We slowly moved forward and sneaked up to almost on top of the rhino. The group had clearly learned their lessons as well, and was dead silent. We could look down on him, where he was standing less than twenty meters from us. What a brilliant sighting! Perfect!
He was becoming restless, since he could see some movement. But because of our height, the position of the sun, and the wind being in our favour, he was not sure. I knew we were completely safe, since there was no way he could approach us up the steep embankment. He eventually started dancing the restless dance only a rhino can dance. Huge beasts who are nimble on their feet.
Suddenly he charged away from us down the river. Obscured by bush I could hear him rounding a bend and then charging up the side of the river bank, unfortunately exiting on the side where we were about to walk. I knew we would meet again.
I followed the river, carefully scanning the river bush for a surprise. When I eventually spotted him, he was standing out in an open grassy arrea, searching for us. This posed a bit of a problem, since the river was bending away from us, and we had to cross the opening.
After studying him for a while I decided on an open approach, not trying to hide from him. Should he identify us I judged that there would be enough escape opportunities open to him, so that he would not feel threatened. I led the group away from him, moving up and away from the river, to circle around his position, and planning to eventually turn back to the river.
Moving across the open area he started to shadow us. As we moved on he kept pace with us, slowly drifting closer and closer. I began feeling uncomfortable in his approach and decided to rather manage the situation than to wait on him to make a move. Approaching a nice guarri bush standing in the open, I indicated the group in behind the bush and moved towards the rhino.
This immediately caught his attention. He turned towards me and started ambling in my direction. With a snort he made his feelings known.
In my life I have studied quite a few languages. All with different levels of success, but usually not too spectacular. I have found that one learn a language the best, there where you use it in everyday life.
This was the morning when I learned to speak rhino. Later the group was to compliment me, saying that I had a certain flare with the language. The rhino certainly seemed convinced too, because he made a quick u-turn and charged away from us.
I however had my doubts. Clearly my explanations were not quite clear enough, since he charged further in the direction where we would meet again. The excited group however had no such doubts. Convinced that I just saved their lives, and impressed with my fluent rhino talk, they looked ready to charge a herd of elephant.
Moving on I was becoming a bit concerned. I knew that should we meet again, he would be very agitated, and could act aggressively. We kept a sharp eye out for him, and it was not too long before we could see him running out in front of us. Every now and then we would see him crossing an open area, but running in no set direction. He was clearly still a bit flustered, but luckily he eventually decided to cross the river and move away from us.
It seems that even in the bush it often helps to rather talk your way out of trouble.
But not always.
Imberbe = Combretum imberbe = Leadwood = Hardekool = The spirit of the Wildernis!
Want to know more about the SANParks Honorary Rangers? Visit www.sanparkshr.orgOne positive deed is worth more than a thousand critical words.