Staring Contest

Our small group (4 guests, 2 guides and 2 trackers), standing beside a large bush, is staring at Troy, a humongous male black rhino, who is staring back at us from about 100 feet away. Troy’s eyesight isn’t very good so he thinks we are an extension of the bush, but we keep very still anyway. Every time Murray’s camera shutter clicks, Troy’s ears move as he is picking up the sound. Troy is a beautiful beast and we stare at each other for a good 10 minutes before we slowly back away.

Troy, the black rhino, Namibia
Troy, the black rhino

Earlier in the morning, we connected with the vehicle with the trackers and another guest vehicle. Our guide, Asker, spotted movement and it was a mother black rhino and babe, Unistein and Uli. The mother, being very protective, went off at a run with baby right behind, when she heard our vehicles. We got a quick look at them running away.

Welwitchia, Namibian national plant
Welwitchia, Namibian national plant

The welwitchia is the national plant of Namibia and only the elephants and black rhinos eat it. The rhinos will chew it, getting the moisture and nutrients from it and then spit the debris out, whereas the elephants eat the whole leaves.

On the drive home, we happened across Unies, a 32 year old female, and mother of Troy. We watch her for some time also and she is a beautiful beast too.

Unies, black rhino, Namibia
Unies, mother of Troy

This area is a protected area of about 1,300 sq km and has about 20 free roaming rhinos in it. The trackers patrol the area and check on the rhinos, but the rhinos are free to live their lives. The area is part of the Save the Rhino Trust.

Murray’s addendum

We are on the road by 7am. It seems to be the way here. Road is a rather loose term for where the wheels for the Toyota Landcruiser touch down. This is real 4-wheel drive terrain. Our guide Akser is quite adept at changing from 4 wheel high to 4 wheel low and managing the 5 gears at the same time. Steep slopes that make Debbie yelp, big rocks that need traversing, deep loose gravel or sand, all of which need a change in gear. We don’t get stuck or even close to it.

The first pair of rhinos we see run off so the trackers feel they should find at least one that is willing to stick around and stare at us while we stare at them. This takes us far afield, zone 4, according to Ceasar, one of the trackers. We travelled most of the way there at a relative high speed. They find a willing subject and we spend time with Troy. At that point it is about 2.30pm and we should be heading back. Akser informs us it will be about a 4 hour trip. Holy, we went that far. On the return road another willing victim is found and we stand motionless trying to stare down Unies. After 12 hours of bone shaking African massage we arrive back at camp, 7pm, just in time for dinner.

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