A Rhino Irony

Looking into the gorge

(Greg) There are less than 2,000 black rhinos left on the planet. At a remote camp in Northwest Namibia – just south of the Angolan border – we had the rare chance to track and find one. The presence of a black rhino this far north was a surprise to the local staff as their usual browsing vegetation is not as common in this dry desert region. We soon witnessed what that really meant.

Late in the afternoon of August 7th, we descended a large dune into a rocky gorge. We walked slowly and silently hoping to find, but not startle, the rhino. There are few experiences that match the exhilaration of a rhino search on foot. Especially in a steep, thin canyon. Every time Andrew obliviously stepped on and cracked a twig, my eyes instinctively shot up to find a scrambling escape route up the sheer sandstone wall.

Andrew watching our friend

Sadly, we soon discovered that an escape route would not be necessary. We found the rhino lying on his side, alert, but with barely enough energy to lift his head. He had made a wrong turn somewhere and was now in serious trouble. Dehydrated and hungry, he looked little like the prehistoric armored death machine that galloped through my childhood nightmares. His despair was soon ours.

It was a mournful climb back out of the gorge, our silence now born from sadness rather than fear.

Our message written with "Namib chalk"

I wrote our best wishes on a nearby rock with Namibian chalk (dried, ash-white hyena dung), and we scrambled up the rock face as night fell.

The next morning we heard that our rhino had been found floating in the Kunene River. It seems he had found enough energy to descend out of the gorge and to the river bank, but then must have slipped in and drowned. A terrible rhino irony. We were the last humans to see this magnificent animal alive.

Goodbye.

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3 Responses to “A Rhino Irony”

  1. What an exhilarating experience to see a rare black rhino in the wild. I enjoyed reading about this adventure and seeing your photos. At the end of your entry I could feel the range of emotions that you all went through: excitement, fear, success, worry, sadness.

  2. What an amazing story and an amazing picture. Taylor and will wait with such anticipation for each post. Please keep them coming! Best to all

  3. Greg, how are you guys getting around — guide/suv? how are roads etc.
    -Logistially focused,
    Phil