With all the rain we have had in the past two weeks the bush is as green as ever and the animals are thriving. Due to the huge amounts of water there are now hidden mud pans and pools, not easily seen from the roads that our rhinos thoroughly enjoy. Because of this, the art of tracking becomes essential. My tracker Nick and I had been tracking one rhino in particular, for three drives, when this morning we came across the freshest of fresh spoor and territorial markings. Although fresh, this male rhino had a bee in his bonnet to get as much of his territory marked as possible.
After almost two hours of heavy tracking we came around a corner to see our large male white rhino standing in the middle of the road spraying urine and scuffing his feet. As the rhino turned to face the vehicle and I turned to my guests with a huge smile, a leopard cub ran right in front of the rhino’s nose! With a shout of surprise and glee my guests started clicking away on their cameras, unsure of which animal to aim at. Then to our surprise and delight the young cub stalked the vehicle, ran behind, and proceeded to be ambushed by his sibling for a game of rough and tumble in the road, after which, the mother Mbilo, came over for a few licks and rubs. The cubs then played a raucous game of tag, using a nearby tree to climb up and down and jump off of. Towards the end of their antics one cub tried to leap from a flimsy branch after the other cub only to get stuck hanging upside down trying to figure out the most dignified way to untangle himself.
As mother and cubs slowly ambled off into the river bed, my guests and I slowly drove down the road, smiles on our faces and laughter in our voices, to continue our rhino sighting as he drank water at a dam, munched fresh green grass, and lazily went about his business. Another great drive on Kapama full of surprises!
By: Noelle DiLorenzo – River Lodge Ranger