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Rhinoceros


This journey differed from the others in that Kantim seemed to know exactly where he was going. He wasn't scouring the landscape, as he normally did, in search of some telltale sign that a creature lay crouching in the bush. There was a purpose and conviction to his driving.

The terrain changed. It became greener and, as we climbed very gradually, the Great Rift Valley loomed in the distance. Without warning, Kantim did a 180 degree turn, stopped the jeep and got out. He summoned us. This was the first time we'd gone in search of game on foot. We followed with apprehension until greeted by two khaki-clad Kenyans who led us to a small village at the top of the dirt track.

And there, grazing freely, just feet away from us, were two white rhinos. They stood like a pair of armoured vehicles ready for deployment. Were it not for their easy, relaxed manner - with cartoon-like tufts of grass (a comforting reminder of their vegetarianism;) sprouting from the corners of their mouths - I might have been afraid.

Photo: Rhinoceros, Masai Mara, Kenya safari wildlifeMy confidence grew and I took a step closer. Kantim warned me to move slowly and advised us to stick together in a group. Apparently their eyesight is poor; if we moved in one, solid mass they would consider us a large creature and be less inclined to attack.

I stood still and slowly raised my camera. One of them was walking towards me, still chomping on half a ton of grass. I waited - watching through my viewfinder - willing him to freeze. The light was fading fast and the slightest movement would render the image blurry under those conditions.

Sensing the rhino wasn't going to stop, I closed the shutter; better to have a blurry photo (to cry over;) than nothing at all! It was a shame; if I'd known we'd be allowed out of the vehicle this time, I would have taken my tripod. Though, when I remember that prehistoric monster Photo: Hippos in Mara River, Masai Mara, Kenya safari wildlifethundering towards me - comical looking or not - I think it unlikely I would have asked him to wait a moment while I assemble my gear and say 'cheese'.

Once back at the lodge, we learned that after we'd left the Great Migration river crossing, two wildebeests had been dragged under. I was disappointed I'd missed it, but that's nature - crocodiles will only kill if they're hungry. They'd obviously just finished breakfast when we arrived. I consoled myself with a gin & tonic on the veranda and an impressive action shot of a couple of hippos comparing teeth. Night game drive...


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