Barbara's Random Thoughts

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

When Rhinos Attack

I'm going to share one of the lighter stories from my trip, because right now I'm just not in the mood to be publicly deep about very much. So.

Last Wednesday, our group went on a game drive at Pilanesberg National Park. We left at 6am (ugh) and drove north. There was the requisite beautiful African sunrise on the way. As the sun rose, at least half of our car had Lion King running through our heads. We're just that cheesy. Fortunately, Bryan had the Lion King 1 1/2 soundtrack in the glove compartment. In it went. Not quite as good as the original, but we made do with what we had. I commented that the idea of listening to Lion King on our way to a game drive in the African bush was nearly as good as the Sound of Music Tour in Salzburg. I revel in this sort of thing.

Our morning began well. We saw a bunch of baboons hanging out on the dam. (This led to plenty of dam jokes: "Look at all those dam baboons!" Hee.) We saw a couple of swimming hippos. And then, one of the guys spotted a lioness laying down way off in the grass. Awesome. She was pretty far out there, but still. In our first half hour, a lion!! (Can you spot her?)

Before too long, she got up and stalked off through the tall grass, and we headed further down the road. We passed another car, and the people told us there was a rhino right near the road we'd just driven down. We turned the vans around and headed back to catch a glimpse of the rhino. We got a lot more than a glimpse.

We pulled up and saw the rhino, RIGHT THERE at the edge of the road. He looked like he was about to cross the road. The way we stopped the vans unfortunately kind of boxed him in a bit, with a hill to his back, and a van on either side of his escape route. He trotted out onto the road a bit uneasily (we were perhaps all a bit uneasy), and headed toward the other van, which started hastily backing down the road.

Then the poor rhino slipped. He just lost his footing with one of his back feet, and stumbled a bit right there in front of us. We kinda laughed. Poor rhino. We later decided that he must have gotten embarrassed, because he headed back into the grass from whence he came.

But then, THEN he walked back out onto the road, and started trotting toward the red van, whose sensible occupants started freaking out. The less sensible occupants were still hanging out the windows taking pictures as the van continued to back away from the approaching rhino.

Either his earlier stumble had damaged his ego, or he decided he'd intimidated us enough, because he left off with his semi-charge, crossed the road and left us alone--some of us freaking out about almost getting charged by a rhino, some of us (like me) simply exhilarated at our exciting rhino encounter. I really don't think the implications of what a charging rhino could have done to our vehicles really ever sunk in with me. It was just SO COOL.

The excitement of the rest of the day wasn't even overshadowed by the rhino charge. Because how cool are these?

Also cool: Listening to Hakuna Matata when we saw a warthog. I was just bummed we didn't see any water buffalo, because we all had plans to sing the Water Buffalo Song: "Everybody's got a water buffalo, yours is fast but mine is slow..."


| posted by Barbara | 11:29 PM