World Rhino Day 2013

by Alison, 22/09/2013

World Rhino Day. I had never heard about this before Friday afternoon.However  having been in South Africa this year and seeing these amazing animals I just wanted to mark the day. 

There are plenty of problems in the world and this may seem like a small one but it struck a cord with me. These animals are big, beautiful and ever since I saw Sally the rhinoceros in Dublin Zoo as a child I thought they were gorgeous. Today they are disappearing at a drastic rate as they are brutally and savagely poached for their horns. 

Conservationists believe that if current poaching trends continue, the rate of deaths per year will over-take births between 2016-2018.  Meaning the extinction of these animals is drawing dangerously close.

While we were in South Africa the problem was evident in any of the parks. One of the parks we were in would not disclose how many black rhinos they had in the park for fear of attracting even more attention from poachers.

Coming from Ireland it was awe-inspiring to see and hear these creatures. Our first encounter was sitting in a hide at night while camping in Addo Elephant Park. Next moment we heard this rumble and crashing of bushes. Though we could not see it yet, you could feel the size and power of the animal vibrating through the ground at it charged at speed. 

Another morning in Thornybush Game Reserve we surprised a rhino in the early dawn light. I'm not sure who was more surprised, our rangers or the rhino as he came barreling towards us. Rhinos apparently have terrible sight and their first instinct is to charge when surprised, to scare off other animals but also to just get a closer look. Luckily this guy, decided we weren't that interesting or scary and decided to leave us be.

At other times the rhinos seemed so gentle and calm. Contentedly grazing, caring for their calves or allowing the oxpeckers to groom them.

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