January 19, 2012

CAMP DIARIES: RHINOS DOING THEIR THING - MAKULEKE, KRUGER NATIONAL PARK (19 JANUARY 2012)




What can be more exhilarating than watching rhinos “do their business”, and all this literally a stone’s throw away? Not only once, but twice in the space of a couple of days on top of that. No wonder the students described it as “so exciting”, “unbelievable” and “remarkable”!   

Our wilderness camp at Makuleke in the remote northern part of the Kruger National Park got 2012 off to a great start by offering the students on a yearlong professional field guide course these fantastic sightings in the last week. They are currently busy with the trails guide component of their course (with instructor Bruce Lawson) and have been putting in many hours in the hot, sweltering summer weather. But the rewards, in sightings like these, more than make up for it.

One can easily put oneself right there in Makuleke and almost at the feet of the rhinos when reading the log book entries of the students. This is how Allison, American by birth but married to a South African, recorded her experience on that morning walk.

“We were taking a break at Palm Springs when four rhinos approached from the south, very close to our position. It was a cow, her calf and two sub adult bulls, possibly from the cow and around 4 years old.

We ducked behind a fallen log which was the only cover in the area. Fortunately the wind was strongly in our favour because we were a little too close for comfort and didn’t have anywhere safely to retreat to. 

The two sub adults were sparring and the cow and calf were drinking. The two males then approached our location and Bruce stood up and shouted to make our presence known. They turned around and carried on sparring and drinking. 

We then retreated about 15 metres into thicker bush and viewed the rhinos for an additional half an hour. They then retreated east. 

This was by far the best encounter yet! It was great viewing their natural behaviour since at first they were not aware of our presence. Lessons learned today – wind direction is paramount for close sightings like this; also, stopping for too long at a well-used water hole, may not be such a ‘lekker’ idea!”

Note – for those not familiar with the world ‘lekker’, it’s an Afrikaans term for basically anything nice, good, great etc. and can be used for anything from food, weather, and an experience like this. If you join us on an EcoTraining course, you will become very familiar with ‘lekker’.

If that wasn’t enough, the students then viewed these rhinos (three bulls) a couple of days later. Albeit from a very different angle, but still just as magnificent. So sit back, and enjoy…






 (Thank you Bruce for the photos!)


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