Saturday, July 27, 2013

"Don't Worry", it's Just a Rhino!

Greetings All,
From the top of the Grootberg Plateau you can see the Klip River Valley below and see Hartman's mountain zebra and oryx grazing on the scant vegetation.  I couldn't wait to get down there.

Peggy Viewing the Klip River Valley

At 6:00 AM the next morning we headed down along with our guide, two trackers and five other guests to track the desert-adapted black rhino.  It's hard to imagine that rhinos and elephants can survive in such a harsh environment but they do.  I spotted a lone bull elephant browsing on a Mopane tree.

Desert Elephant Bull

The trackers spotted fresh rhino tracks and headed out on foot to track them.  They radioed us to let us know that a rhino had been spotted in the Mopane thicket about two km away.  We followed the guide in single file to the location and preceded cautiously toward the rhino.  At first I couldn't see her but then her gray shape appeared in the bush.  As I looked through my binoculars I could see a second rhino. Our trackers told us that this was Mercy and her calf Lorenzo.

Mercy, a Black Rhino Cow

We approached to within 30 meters as the rhinos were hidden safely in the bush and weren't apt to come out.  After viewing them for about 20 minutes it was time to head back.

Our next stop was Desert Rhino Camp operated jointly by Wilderness Safaris and Save the Rhino Trust.  The following day Marc and I had a private rhino tracking tour.  We headed out with our guide and three trackers to a more remote location within the 1.1 million acre conservancy in search of rhinos that have not been seen in awhile.  Our trackers picked up fresh tracks and followed them. We watched from the vehicle as they flushed a beautiful cow from a ravine below.  We were in much more open country so were only able to approach her to within 80 meters on foot.  Her name is Musona which means "The Lady" in the local language.  Unfortunately her calf died about a month ago.

Musona, a Black Rhino Cow

What a privilege to be so close to such a rare creature, one of the last free roaming black rhinos on the planet!  Save the Rhino Trust and Wilderness Safaris are working hard to protect these rhinos and so far have been very successful.

The next morning we went tracking again with a large group.  The trackers found another rhino sleeping and again we approached cautiously.

Sleeping Black Rhino

We had seen what a sleeping rhino can do if awoken suddenly.  About a week ago, two guests were driving into camp along with their guide.  As they went around a bend they startled a sleeping rhino, Speedy, and he charged the vehicle piercing the body with his horn inches from where one of the guests was sitting!

Speedy rams one of the Land Rovers

Our trackers told us to sit while he woke up this rhino.  "Wait a minute you want to wake a sleeping rhino up while are sitting only 50 meters away?" I asked.  The tracker replied "This rhino isn't Speedy, his name is Don't Worry and he is very relaxed".  The tracker walked around Don't Worry and he awoke from his slumber.  He got up slowly to his feet watching the tracker then turned his attention toward us.  He looked at us but did not approach.

Don't Worry, a Black Rhino Bull

What a thrill!  I wasn't worried about Don't Worry attacking us.  I'm more worried about greedy humans invading this remote wilderness and poaching these magnificent creatures.  I hope this never comes to pass.

In addition to seeing the rhinos we were very lucky with seeing desert elephants.  We were fortunate to come across three breeding herds, a rare site in this arid environment.   The elephants have to travel long distances to find enough food and water to sustain them.

Desert Elephants

On our last game drive we were on our way to a sundowner spot when we encountered a beautiful male lion sitting next to the road - a rare site indeed!  Lions are often heard but rarely seen in this vast landscape. 

Male Lion

We left Desert Rhino Camp the next day and stopped at Twyfelfontein to see ancient rock engravings made by the San People 2000 to 6000 years ago!  We visited here 11 years ago but our stop was brief.  The area is now a World Heritage Site and we were able to see more panels including this one containing the famous "Lion Man", a creature with human toes, an overly long tail with a rectangular kink and a pugmark at its tip.  It was most likely created as part of a shamanistic ritual.

"Lion Man" Panel at Twyfelfontein

We are currently in the Erongo Mountains getting ready for the drive back to Windhoek.  The Erongo wilderness has been a pleasant surprise with beautiful landscapes, loads of rock hyrax and stunning birds.  Some photos follow.

Erongo Mountains

Rock Hyrax

Rosy Faced Lovebird

Tomorrow we fly home arriving back Monday morning.   That's all from Namibia.  Until our next adventure stay well.
Peggy and Marc

      Namibia Mammal List: May 23 - July 29, 2013

 No. Species Scientific Name Notes
  1 African Bush Elephant Loxodonta africana Etosha, Kunene (desert  adapted)
  2 Black Rhino Diceros bicornis  Etosha, Kunene (desert  adapted)
  3 Southern White Rhino Ceratotherium simum simum Etosha 
  4 Southern African Lion Panthera leo melanochaita Etosha, Kunene 
  5 Angolan Giraffe Giraffa giraffa angolensis Etosha, Kalahari Red Dunes 
  6 Eland Tragelaphus oryx  Kalahari Red Dunes, CCF,  Etosha 
  7 Black-backed Jackal  Canis mesomelas  CCF, Etosha 
  8 Spotted Hyena Crocuta crocuta Etosha 
  9 Aardwolf Proteles cristata CCF
 10 Aardvark  Orycteropus afer  CCF
 11 Temminck's  Ground Pangolin Smutsia temminckii  CCF
 12 Southern Greater Kudu Tragelaphus  strepsiceros strepsiceros  CCF, Bagatelle, Fish River  Canyon 
 13 Common Warthog  Phacochoerus africanus  CCF
 14 Plains Zebra Equus quagga CCF
 15 Hartman’s Mountain  Zebra Equus zebra hartmannae Kunene 
 16 Southern Ground  Squirrel  Xerus inauris CCF
 17 Steenbok Raphicerus campestris Kalahari Red Dunes, Etosha 
 18 Springbok Antidorcas marsupialis  Etosha 
 19 Black wildebeest Connochaetes gnou  Kalahari Red Dunes
 20 Angolan Klipspringer  Oreotragus oreotragus typicus  Kunene, Fish River Canyon
 21 Gemsbok  Oryx gazella Etosha, Bagatelle 
 22 Slender Mongoose Herpestes sanguineus CCF
 23 South African  Porcupine  Hystrix africaeaustralis CCF
 24 Rock Hyrax Procavia capensis Erongo
 25 Blue Wildebeest Connochaetes taurinus  Bagatelle
 26 Red Hartebeest Alcelaphus buselaphus caama CCF
 27 Yellow Mongoose Cynictis penicillata CCF
 28 Springhare Pedetes capensis  Bagatelle

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Marc and Peggy,

So great to reconnect with you at dinner last night in NYC.

I love your spirit of adventure, commitment to living life to the fullest, and unflinching pursuit of your dreams. Not to mention your love of the planet, its natural beauty, and all its creatures. I respect and appreciate your volunteer efforts in support of research and preservation.

Really enjoyed the text and pictures in the Just a Rhino! post. Felt like I was there with you.

Look forward to reading about your travels to the most unique and special venues around the world.

Thank you so much for sharing what most people will never have the opportunity to experience.

Bon voyage,

Ken (and Doreen)