An extraordinary scene

Pamushana | August 2017

At first we thought the large grey shape being fed on by lions at the edge of the dam was a hippo carcass. At closer inspection by boat revealed that it was a dead black rhino! Lions were feeding from an opening on its rump and had chewed off an ear.

(A rhino’s skin is around 5 centimetres thick but thinner, at about 1.5 centimetres, in places like the base of the ears.) Our scout force immediately moved in, bravely chased off the lions, and proceeded to try and identify the cause of death, which specific rhino it was, and remove the horns for safekeeping as per official regulations. (Rhino horns and elephant ivory are always removed as one of our many anti-poaching security measures.)

They established that the rhino was a male and had been horn stabbed by another male in territorial combat. The victor’s horn had punctured the rhino’s vital organs.

We have seen black rhinos try to take refuge in water during a fight before, or to wade in the shallows to try and soothe their wounds.

Once the scout force left the scene the lions quickly returned. Over the next few days hyenas took over and, after them, hundreds of vultures. It was a huge meal and ultimately nothing went to waste – even the crocodiles and fish had their fill.