Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Rhino Story

Like my elephant story (previous entry) this story also starts in the Hluhluwe Game Reserve.

Did you know that the lip structures reflect the 2 different African rhino species' diets?

On our way out of the park late in the afternoon and to our delight, we spot not 1 BUT 4 White Rhino (= square-lipped rhinoceros).




Just ahead of us, the female (on right with the longest horn) and 2 youngsters reach the road. As the grazers they are, they keep their heads low and close to the ground.



The 4th rhino, a male, also reaches the road and sniffing (probably to establish if we, in an open safari vehicle, represent a possible threat), the male rhino momentarily resembles a black rhino (= hook-lipped rhinoceros = a browser). Doesn't it look as if he's trying to "tell" us to back off??

The 4 rhinos cross the road - but why do the 2 youngsters suddenly turn back? Are they "sensing" the presence of someone other than us?



Sure enough, a 5th white rhino approaches and strangely, the youngest rhino reveals great interest in the arrival of another male, instead of feeling cowed by the potential "invader".

The large male sniffs - is he invading another bull's territory? If yes, he'll take "avoidance" action - OR a fight might ensue!






However, instead of fighting each other or defending one's territory, quenching their thirst appears to be the uppermost instinct right then.





Peacefully, the female and its young offspring move on whilst the sun sets for the day.




Actually, the rhino story
started a few days before when at the Mkaya Game Reserve in Swaziland, we were privileged to encounter the White & Black rhino species together!

The Black Rhino is somewhat smaller than its counterpart, and uses its prehensile upper lip to manoeuvre leaves and twigs into its mouth. It also is a solitary beast and therefore tends to be more aggressive than the White rhino - it will charge anything from a vehicle (dangerous for us!!) to a butterfly!

More on rhinos and accompanying photos - see my blog-entry: BIG 5 - 4 September 2008.

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