September 2022

A camping trip never to forget

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A camping trip never to forget

Jenny Hishin
By Jenny Hishin
Guest Guide

Scott Wenham, who has grown up on the Malilangwe Reserve, recounts this awesome experience, “We were camping in the reserve, and when my brother and I woke up to start the fire we heard something just over some nearby rocks, so we decided to investigate what it was. When we peered over we saw this black rhino bull! We called the others to come and look, and when the rhino saw us he charged, then turned and ran up the hill. My dad, brother and I followed. When we found him right at the top of the mountain he saw us again and came to investigate. We hid behind a small rock as he looked over at us from less than 12 yards away. He stood there for over 15 minutes, then walked off. I will never forget the experience of being so close to such a huge animal with just a small rock between us.”

With a well taught bush-wise demeanour and camera in hand Scott was able to capture these incredible one-of-a-kind images – a critically endangered species, photographed from a low angle, standing statuesque on a rock, in sublime morning light, in its natural environment.

Black rhinos are complex creatures - they are tough and reactive personas but also sensitive, playful and curious by nature. Every rhino on this property has a unique personality, known lineage and personal history, and each individual is absolutely critical to the overall survival of Africa's remaining black rhino populations.

Mammoth on a mountain

I did a double take and could hardly believe this scene. An enormous bull elephant, silhouetted against the sunrise, on the very top of a high rocky ledge. How on earth did it get up there? Well, it is well known that elephants can climb relatively steep mountainous terrain if they have to. (Apparently, the North African general Hannibal, led elephants over the Alps, around 200 BC.) But it takes a massive amount of energy and the rewards would have to outweigh the effort.

The Brachystegia tamarindoides trees on top of the ridge had some young green leaf growth that certainly looked more tender and nutritious than the surrounding vegetation, and this old bull must have thought them worth the effort. I have to say, in defence of their often destructive way of pushing a tree over to get at the foliage, that this bull was being far more gentle, and only plucking a few small branches. More of a “light pruning” as a PR would say, and he left the ridge after only a few minutes.