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November 2011, Nkwazi Lake Lodge
It was about 2 weeks ago when Chris and I took 4 guests for a nature walk. Chris being on lead rifle as he is the more experienced guide and myself on back up. Amazed at how alive the bush has become only one week after good rain we found the rare black rhino or shall I say rhinos.
We probably walked 4 kilometres before Chris came to a sudden halt and spotted the first one on his right, it’s a bull and it hasn’t heard, seen or smelt us but we’re too close and decided we’re going to move to higher ground, where we can have a better look at it. After about 50 meters we lost a visual, because the bush is dense and we only have about 30% visibility, we’re starting to get worried but not saying a word we continue with our “get to higher ground” plan. As we’re moving I stop and scan the area and spot another 2 black rhinos this time on our left hand side, a female and her calf also haven’t heard, seen or smelt us yet! I quickly signal to Chris by snapping my fingers to get his attention and show him there are 2 rhinos to my left, we then moved to a nearby elevated rocky area to get the nice sighting we were looking for and we definitely got one. But as all good sightings have to come to an end the wind turned and she picked up our scent and she started tracking us. Black rhinos are known to do this because they mainly occur in dense bush as they are browsers and are much more aware of danger and more nervous than your more common white rhino. Seeing what she is busy doing we decide we’re going to head back to the lodge, she followed our exact trail until we were out in the clear and she then turned around with her calf and disappeared back into the bush just as fast as they appeared on trail. We got to the lodge pretty worn out and tired but everyone was happy.
We are all proud to say we have the black rhino range expansion project (BRREP) running on the farm, 13 black rhinos were introduced here at the end of October 2006 and have not lost one to poaching. BRREP has translocated over 98 rhinos to numerous places in South Africa, there are 5 locations where the project is being run in KZN and since the project started not one black rhino has been poached on project sites.
Excluding the rhino sightings we had on trail we spotted another 7 on game drives, of which 5 were spotted on 1 drive, and I am happy to report all the ones we’ve seen are big, fat and healthy.
Report by: Gerrit Brits