Having left the lioness to her own affairs, and before we get to an elephant family to monitor, we come across a group of white rhinos – wow wow wow wow…
They are partaking of an afternoon mud bath, so we settle down very close to them to observe. We seem awe-fully (intended typo) close to them, and I have to trust that their eyesight is as bad as they say, because I don’t want anyone to get grumpy with us. I gather that they are used to the sound of the trucks, and they certainly don’t look anxious in the least.
One of the littlies (all 2.5 tonnes of muscle) has a most decorative sprig of flower on his horn as he noses around in the mud patch.
A massive patriarch is with this group; he seems to be just standing and watching out while all the rest of the little ones take turns with rolling in mud to cake their hides. Or not taking turns – we see three youngsters trying to fit into the mud patch at the same time, jostling for space, and occasionally poking each other with a horn. Quite amazingly they manage to roll almost the whole way over, much like my horse does when he can get enough momentum into the roll.
It’s not till all the younger ones have had their turn and their bottoms are waddling happily off into the distance that the patriarch moves in. This massive male lowers himself ponderously into the mud, and then to my absolute amazement manages to roll over until all four of his enormous feet are waving in the air, and I can see his horned nose poking out one side side.
C observes that he looks a bit like one of those coffee tables; all he needs is to balance a sheet of glass on the soles of his feet and we’d be able to sit around and have afternoon tea.
When he’s thoroughly coated in mud, he raises himself to his feet again, and just in case we didn’t know he’s in charge, proved his point by leaving a huge “mark” on his territory….
White rhino have square flat lips since they graze mostly on grass. Black rhino have a v-shaped lip to browse on shrubs. White rhinos also get together, while black ones tend to be more solitary.
A different evening we were treated to a sighting of a black rhino and her calf, nearly hidden in the bushes, but clear enough to get some great shots before she got nervous and we left her alone in case she decided to run us off.
Sigh, another amazing experience as a Volunteer at Shamwari.