September 2, 2009

White Rhino vs Lion pride at Selati Game Reserve

Whilst viewing the Selati lion pride(three adult females, three juvenile males, two 14 month old cubs and three nine month old cubs) and the resident adult male, we were extremely fortunate to experience some extreme interaction between the pride and a female rhino and her calf. We followed the lions from their daytime resting spot to a nearby reservoir in a clearing, overshadowed by an ancient Nyala tree. I was loathe to illuminate the scene with the spotlamp, so we sat in the deepening gloom. While the younger lions were drinking; the females watchful of us; the adult male exhibiting flehmen and one lone female mournfully attempting a roar, the resident female rhino and her ten week old calf stepped into the clearing from a drainage line, making for the water.

The younger lions immediately began to stalk the rhinos, with two of the females providing some guidance, or maybe protection of their broods. The female rhino, whilst watchful, seemed to disregard the threat of the lions and made her way steadily to the tank. Her youngster obviously felt more threatened and continuously made warning rushes at the younger lions. Interestingly, when he rushed one of the lionesses, she rolled onto her back as if showing her belly and inviting him in. Fortunately for him, he backed off. After more agitation from the young rhino, contrasting with the calm of his mother and still reluctant to spoil the scene with white light, we decided to take our leave of the scene.

A few days later, we encountered these two rhino whilst on trail and the female exhibited as calm a demeanor as she had when threatened by the lions. We managed to close to within twenty metres of her and the youngster and were preparing to enjoy a lengthy viewing, when a game capture helicopter screamed by overhead. The female snorted, the youngster jumped and then they both disappeared. I was struck by the vastly different reactions displayed by the female rhino when confronted by three perceived threats.

Garth Edwards - Instructor

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