Black rhino at Singita Pamushana Lodge

Tracking the temperamental black rhino has to be one of the most exciting and challenging activities for a field guide. Black rhino are notoriously aggressive, and will not hesitate to charge, even when one is in the confines of a vehicle. Singita Pamushana Lodge is home to a healthy population of these animals, which offered me a fantastic opportunity to learn more about them.

Our mission was to locate the fresh spoor of a black rhino and continue to follow the tracks until we finally located the animal. In order to optimise our chances of seeing one, we decided to set off early in the morning when the day is still cool and rhinos are the most active.

James Suter tracking the black rhino James Suter tracking the black rhino

They mainly drink at night or early in the morning, so the logical place to start was at one of the larger pans. It was a challenging task, as we had to select one particular track that seemed the most promising. It had to be the freshest track and not only would we have to distinguish this spoor from the hundreds of others surrounding the waterhole, but we would also have to make sure we continued trailing the same one. After circling the pan a number of times we selected the tracks of a single bull and set off with our noses to the ground.

James Suter tracking the black rhino

We were headed south, straight into the thick Mopane forest. I noted the fresh dung as well as the broken branches the rhino had left as clues. As we went deeper into the scrub, I felt my heart rate quicken and my ears and eyes sharpen, all the while considering the black rhino’s fearsome reputation.

Black rhino charging the group

The startled oxpeckers alerted us to the proximity of our quarry when they took to the air as we approached, pricking the ears of the large figures below them in the undergrowth. We kept silent and still, wary of giving away our position. Suddenly the wind changed against us and the rhino caught our scent, lumbering straight for our hiding place. The best response when being charged by a rhino is to find a tree to climb or hide behind (since rhino have bad eyesight, they usually can’t distinguish between a large tree trunk and the perceived threat of a person). We promptly found a thicket to hide behind, hearts pounding, and quietly watched the rhino retreat into the shadows of the forest, feeling great respect for these massive but agile beasts.

Black rhino charging the group

James Suter is an experienced Singita field guide with a passion for photography. Check back regularly for more of James’ stories from Singita’s private reserves in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania.


Similar blog Posts

Green Goals: Singita’s Sustainability Vision for 2025

2020 has ushered in a new decade and an environmental “super year”; a year in which we have an incredible opportunity to make an ambitious global commitment to battle biodiversity breakdown and urgently tackle the climate emergency. Now is the time for change – this will be a make-or-break year in which key international decisions…

Read More

Lodges and Camps

Wildlife

Food


Videos from Singita

Latest Video

Singita Malilangwe House

Set on a picturesque sandstone ridge in Zimbabwe’s remote Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve and offering unfiltered space and time for deepened connections with nature, family and friends, Singita Malilangwe House is an exclusive-use villa with five expansive bedrooms – each with its own private deck. Here, guests have the relaxed freedom to enjoy tailormade stays catering to their every need and simply be present in each moment. Providing the stillness they seek, it’s the ultimate sanctuary in which to awaken the senses and restore the soul; and with private access to restorative experiences in 130,000 acres of untouched wilderness, it welcomes a profound sense of wellbeing, leaving them renewed, restored and inspired.

Community & Conservation
A Wildlife Showcase
All Videos