Our first guided game drive in the Timbavati Game Reserve in South Africa was one of the most exciting, heart-pounding, white-knuckle adventures I’ve been on. More exhilarating than a roller coaster ride, our ranger took us off road and into the bush. We drove over and through thorn covered acacia trees, ducking our heads or leaning to one side to avoid being scratched. We held on to the bar in front of us as we were bumped and jostled. We were hunting rhinos, one of the “big five,” the most sought after animals of Africa.
When the ranger asked us if we wanted to track the rhinos on foot, I said, “Yes!” We walked then drove again, spotting the rhinos and driving crazily to catch them from the front instead of from behind. Then back in the land rover, driving quickly, turning sharply, ducking and searching, the adults skittish with one of their babies nearby.
The ranger stopped the truck, and we watched; no talking, just listening and taking photos of their broad dark grey backsides with an occasional profile, amazed by the proximity of these prehistoric animals.
“Did you kill any rhinos?” My friend back in the U.S. asked me, a twinkle in his eye. “No,” I replied. “But we shot a lot, and we have the photos to prove it.”
To learn about the current status of rhinos in South Africa, read the article “Rhino Wars” in the March 2012 issue of “National Geographic” or listen to an interview with the author, Peter Gwin here. To read about or listen to Namibia’s approach to saving wildlife and communal conservancies, click here.
Trip taken in August 2011.