There is an African Folktale that explains the Rhinoceros’ peculiar trait:
When the world was new and the animals were still settling into their homes, Rhino and Elephant had a disagreement which, in time, turned into a clash. Both animals were strapping and outfitted with dangerous weapons to fight and defend themselves with. Rhino being short-sighted fought wildly but still managed to inflict a couple of nasty stab wounds on poor Elephant.
Elephant, being much wiser, used his tusks to defend himself. Rhino soon had numerous great gashes in hid hide and realized he had to admit defeat. Poor Old Rhino! He stumbled away, wondering who he could ask to help him mend his wounds. After a while he found Mrs. Porcupine, who, being a compassionate soul, lent him one of her sharpest quills to use as a needle. But she made Rhino promise to return her quill, as it is her only defense against bigger animals.
Rhino agreed and was soon putting big clumsy stitches into this thick skin. At last it was done and being very tired from the fight and his mending efforts, he flopped down and fell asleep. The quill carefully placed beside him…
Regretfully, Rhino forgot about his promise when he woke and only remembered his undertaking when he bumped into Mrs. Porcupine a few days later. Mystified, he could not remember what he had done with the useful quill. He finally concluded that he must have accidentally a swallowed it!
Now even Rhino realized that if he had swallowed it, it would be dealt with in the same way that his tummy dealt with everything else he swallowed! So – to this day – Rhino always piles his dung up on one particular place and then proceeds to kick it about, still hoping that the valuable quill will come to light!
Story by: Hailey Bunge – Kapama River Lodge Ranger