Unlike other rhino species the White Rhino is social. They live in loose family groups. Observing their interactions for a few hours right at sunrise is a real treat.
We’re at a waterhole moving around freely with only a simple fence between us and the white rhino. The location is not disclosed to protect them.
It’s first light, our early get up is richly rewarded. Not one, but two, wait three, then four…. finally, seven rhinos are in view. Wow! One is a curious youngster who mum has to keep in line.
Most of the time rhinos move slowly, and sometimes don’t move at all. Well, that’s except for an occasional ear flapping to keep the bugs off. Or when an oxpecker digs just a bit to deep down that ear hole.
When they are walking about, nudging each other, from behind or against the head appears to be a form of greeting. Laying down with all that bulk takes a bit of balance and maneuvering. Frequently it doesn’t take long before the resting rhino is joined by another.
3 Things You May Not Know About White Rhinos
ONE: White rhinos live in herds often referred to as a ‘crash.’ Some say if you’ve heard them running through the bush you’ll understand why. After all, rhinos are huge beasts.
TWO: They are surprisingly affectionate and seem to enjoy company when taking their long naps. While laying on their sides you might see their horns or heads touching. It’s also when the oxpeckers are most active.
THREE: Female rhino are protective of their young, keeping both adult males and females away. When the youngster lays down mum will keep vigil not laying down until she feels totally comfortable with the situation. Mum has every reason to be anxious. Maybe less about the other adult rhinos and more about poachers.
Every 10 hours a rhino is killed. At this rate they are disappearing fast. We feel extremely privileged to have observed these seven and hope they are being kept safel by their diligent anti-poaching rangers. Rangers like Peter and his team.
Peter Milton and his team protect the endangered rhino. They have been at it for years. We first met up with Peter way back in 2014.
It is a grueling work, especially during the full moon cycle when poachers are the most active. Peter and his team use high tech equipment to gather intelligence, to deter and apprehend poachers.
Despite the wealth of experience and knowledge things don’t always end well. One of the saddest things in the world, Peter tells us, is coming upon a newly orphaned rhino calf crying for its dying mother. It will nudge her. Desperately encouraging her to get up. It will cry pitifully for hours until all its strength is gone.
Rhino are shot by poachers for their horns. A rhino horn currently brings about $65,000 per kilo. A horn can weigh around 2 kilos. Although the one doing the actual poaching doesn’t see nearly that much cash, you can understand why a villager is readily tempted to enter this dark world, despite the inherent dangers.
Remembering the crying rhino calf keeps Peter and his team going during the tough nights, during the tense moments, during the failures, during the frustrations and betrayals.
Over the years Peter has proven that drones are one of the key tools to watch over the rhinos. Typically, where drones fly rhino don’t die.
Typically, after a full moon cycle Peter and his team can take a deep breath and know that they’ve kept another rhino family safe to live another day,
Getting involved from afar
You and I can’t go out there in the bush to protect the white rhinos, however, we can help those like Peter who do. Currently, with your help, we provide funds to put fuel in the tanks of the bush vehicles.
From one of our donors…Ian R.
“You do amazing work protecting our rhinos. Thank you so much.”
When you make a comfortable donation of $15.65 today it will put fuel in the tank for one day in the bush protecting rhino.
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Nikela is a fundraising nonprofit on a mission to help people protecting nature, especially doing wildlife conservation.