February 2023

Black rhino in a meadow

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Black rhino in a meadow

Leaving the lion sighting we drove back towards the road and in the distance was a rhino, making its way towards us while grazing in a meadow. Grazing and open landscape is where you’d expect to find a white rhino, but a double-take confirmed that this was indeed a black rhino!

With all the flowers and forbs in abundance at the moment black rhinos are stocking up on essential vitamins and nutrients not normally found in their diet of browse material.

I had stopped immediately, turned off the engine upon seeing him, and switched my camera to quiet mode. Black rhinos are very sensitive animals and notorious for their reactive behaviour. He was nonchalantly making a bee-line towards us, unaware we were there.

Then half a football field away he did see us, got a bit of a fright, and paced around wondering what to do. He decided to have a closer inspection rather than gallop away, and a remarkable encounter ensued. There was a lot of bluffing and bluster, and at his closest point even his oxpecker hitchhiker seemed to think, “What now buddy? Just chill with that weed in your mouth and stop disturbing all these insects!”

From looking at his ear-notches our ecologist can tell this is a black rhino bull referred to as Mabhelele, who is eight years old. What was especially interesting is that this rhino has a territory in the central Chekwa/ 02/Nyari/Banyini areas but he recently took an unusual trip to the far south around Chiloveka. Perhaps it was an end of year vacation? But on a more serious note it’s good to know he is back in his homeland, looking well and bulking up on the abundant flora available right now.

Jenny Hishin
By Jenny Hishin
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