Seeing a rhinoceros is a special sighting and we saw them almost every day in Madikwe! Most of them were white rhino but some were black rhino. They are both grey in color; the name “white rhino” comes from a mistranslation from the Afrikaans language … they say “wyed” rhino (i.e. “wide”) because the white rhino, which grazes, has wide lips, while the black rhino, which eats leaves and twigs, has a pointed mouth. Black rhinos have two horns, and occasionally a third small posterior horn. The front horn is longer than the rear which makes them lucrative targets for the illegal trade in rhino horn, which is valued in Vietnam and other places. They think it has supposed magical or medicinal qualities (it has none) but it’s useless for any other purpose than protecting a rhino. As I wrote on the Kenya trip, between 1970 and 1992, 96 percent of Africa’s remaining black rhinos were killed. Now there are fewer than 2,500 left. Black rhinos are still threatened by poaching.
They have very poor eyesight, and their face is always a few inches off the ground. Their hearing and sense of smell are outstanding. They seem to like to get muddy!.
The white rhino can be up to 7,900 lbs and is larger than the black rhino. Both species of rhino can be dangerous if provoked. All the ones that we saw were moving slowly, but they can run at upwards of 25-30 mph and can live 40-50 years. An interesting factoid is that rhino sex can last 30-60 minutes and they can point their penis backward. Check out the video of the rhino marking his territory.
It is one of my favorite animals to see and watch. Check out the pics and a 30-second video. The pics are courtesy of my traveling companions Beth, Dawn and Gayle.
(note: Sorry for the big gap in my blog entries, I hope to get back on track in the next few days with some entries.)