After a long day at the beach in St. Lucia we decided to take the Clio on a drive in iSimangaliso Wetland Reserve. It is a World Heritage Sight and where they brought back one species of the rhino from extinction, though they still rest perilously on the brink. The demand for rhino horns in several Asian countries makes it difficult to protect them from poachers. As an aside, did you know that the Western Black Rhino was declared extinct in 2010? Sigh.
We drove through, catching sight of several of the regular things- zebras, wildebeests, and even some Cape Buffalo. We drove onto a little side road and while going past a giant bush we discovered a mother rhino and her baby. It was a magical moment. Had we seen the rhinos from afar we would never have driven so close but because they were obscured by the bush we all sat in silent wonder, about 10 feet away from these giant creatures staring and taking them in. After we got a hold of ourselves we moved to sit in the open windows of the car, snapping photos and pinching ourselves, then drove on. We turned the car around in a little slip and when we drove back we passed them again, the baby got a fright and made a run for its mother and we knew it was time to step on the gas.
Over our days in the bush there were several times when we felt the awesome power of a mother animal with her baby. You feel keenly aware of your size, the size of your vehicle and the size of the animal who is 2 or 3x’s your car, even when when you are in a safari jeep. Mothers, whether they were elephants, hippos or rhinos made a show of strength and warning by baring their teeth, trumpeting their trunks or simply by keeping her giant eye on you the entire time. If we didn’t move to South Africa I probably would have gone on safari once or twice in my 40’s or 50’s and for that I am thankful.