2020 SA A Crash of Rhino
Communing with a Crash of Rhino
On the last day of our Safari
Yesterday at breakfast I mentioned to Rob that the tiny red spots I could see on my front left by the departing nymph ticks were getting smaller which was a relief and he then asked, “How are the two on the back of your knee?” “What two on the back of my knee?” Queried I.
I was shocked at what I saw “Oooh I haven’t seen those,“ and now my thoughts about whether I should visit a doctor or just await any symptoms were changed into a decision and a Whats App message to Tasha and a call to Annaley our friendly taxi driver was quickly followed to a seat infront of Doctor Roodt who gave me a colourful description of what effects I could experience over the next few days, having instantly said “Ah you have tick fever my dear….” He concluded his description with “I know all this because I have had it myself!” That was very re-assuring and I knew I would once again survive a scrape with a potentially dangerous health issue. “Can I drink while taking the Doxycyl?” I asked “Yes no problem, I’m off next week myself for a break on a winery near Cape Town, and the only place I want to see you again is maybe in the local wineshop selecting the best!” Armed with a prescription we headed to the pharmacy and in no time I had seen the doc and got the cure, all for just £29 (£25 for the cons and £4 for the drugs,) with no waiting involved; remarkable when I consider the UK’s excellent but over stretched NHS with its long waiting times.
It was a mere 6 days ago that my ‘visitors’ arrived and the morning after that was our last game drive, again with Kyle and Leticia’s lovely company. We spotted a tawny eagle all regal in his brown plumage and then a chunky Gnu or Wilderbeest, I prefer Gnu but we are in SA so the longer name applies, a few buffalo and then a real treat, a Crash of Rhinos. There were five in all, of various ages and grazing a little way off as we came to a stop and started soaking up the bush atmosphere. We watched them peacefully grazing and moving ever so slowly towards us and the track behind us. I wondered if they navigated their way around the reserve from their knowledge of the tracks. Then after a few minutes of trust building on their part they each one in turn came and gave us a thorough inspection before deciding we were cosher and then moving by and across the road. Maybe they even remember the different vehicles and appearance of the Rangers.
To me the two male Kudu in amongst the shrubbery are the African equivalent of the grandeur of Edwin Landseer’s The Monarch of the Glen oil painting.
A little further along the track we came around a bend, this time startling a group of impala lambs walking down the road. When a single female Impala drops her lamb during the night of a full moon then all the other females do the same within the same hours of darkness. Whether this is because they were all covered by the males at the same time or because it is easier to protect them when they are all born together and remain of the same age and the herd is not held back by successive births, the effect is the same. I loved the way they group together with the other young ones just like sheep lambs.
As I think I have mentioned, the reserve has thousands of them and they are an essential food source for other animals further up the food chain, in fact ‘our’ cheetah took one just after we saw him.
A Southern Yellow Billed Hornbill gave himself away when we saw his black and white plumage as he moved from one tree to another. Another species plucked from the picture books of my childhood and placed firmly back in reality.
We were again back by the waterhole we are now familiar with from our breaks and from the bush walk, maybe that’s where I picked up the ticks, who knows. We sipped another one of Kyle’s mocha coffees with Amarula as we watched the grey herons on the backs of the hippos. As the hippo poops quite often and flicks his tail across his bottom to clean himself so the fish in the water come along to see if there are any tasty snacks on offer. One of the funniest animal relationships we saw. Unlike the Red Beaked Ox Pickers who clean the buffalo of ticks and other parasites, the hippos gain nothing from the relationship it seems.
We got a better view of the Yellow Billed Stork this time and the yellow and black weaver birds were busily working on their own personal island, building and improving nests and feeding young. The males build the nests with great care while the female sits and watches. Then when all is ready she inspects the structure to see if it is acceptable. If not she snips the few strands of grass that attach it to the branch and sends it plummeting downwards. So the male starts all over again. She may do this a number of times until she is satisfied and I wonder if she knows how many eggs she is carrying and therefore the size of nest she needs. Nothing in nature is without a reason.
The buffalo were enjoying their wallow in the red mud and we watched their behaviour for a few minutes before moving on around the shore and seeing another thirty or so just around the corner that we’d missed.
I thought you might like the details of the Lodge for future reference. This is a wonderful place to introduce children to big wild animals and the principles of conservation told to them by knowledgeable and passionate Rangers, so I recommend Rhino River Lodge and I really hope you enjoyed our experience there.