I’ve mentioned that we’ve been having some hair-raisingly close encounters with a black rhino (Diceros bicornis) around the area of the Malilangwe Dam, at the foot of the lodge. The story began in June when staff members awoke to the colossal sounds of huffing, puffing, bashing and crashing.
Two male black rhinos were engaged in a mighty battle over what seemed to be a territorial dispute. One of the bulls was injured but our scouts managed to keep track of him and determine the extent of his injuries – thankfully he recovered well.
The battle aside, this aggression over territory is an encouraging sign for us because it has been observed that rhinos in low density populations become more territorial and less tolerant of intruders as their population density increases.
Rhinos use dung and urine to stake out the areas of their rule, and their middens act as important communication posts to other rhinos wanting to pass through the area peacefully or challenge the ruler for it.
Black rhinos are not as social as white rhinos (Ceratotherium simum) and solitary individuals of both sexes are likely to be encountered. They have earned the reputation from humans as irascible, temperamental animals that prefer to investigate and possibly chase off a potential threat, rather than wait to be attacked or hope that the intruder will go away.
Three months after the initial battle it now seems certain that the victor enjoys the banks of the vast dam as his exclusive real estate. A highlight of a peaceful boat cruise on the luxury Suncatcher is to spot him on the dam’s green fringe – and a highlight of a far less peaceful excursion is to find him in the harbour area where we moor the boats!