Friday, September 10, 2010

Black rhino AND leopard

Namibia is the best place in the world to see black rhino. This endangered species has been brought back from the brink of extinction in recent years and Etosha National Park now boasts a population of 600, which has grown from just 15 individuals in the 1960s.It is rare to see rhino during the heat of the day, but after dusk they would come to the waterholes to drink. There was a waterhole directly below the second camp that we stayed in, at Halali, and I was able to wait up each night for them - sometimes I was there until 11pm.
In the picture above you can just see one waiting patiently for the elephant to leave so that it too can quench his thirst.
The rhino below was in poor shape. It appeared to have lost both ears and part of its tail was missing - I suspect that as a calf it had been caught by lion. It was good to see that it survived.
Although the black rhino population is more secure than it has been in the past, conservationists now face a far more dangerous and better equipped form of poacher than ever before and keeping them safe has become harder than ever.
For more information on this and on my black rhino sightings click here to read my latest column in the Malton and Pickering Gazette & Herald.
As I kept watch one evening, a black rhino appeared just as dusk fell, followed, almost immediately, by Africa's most elusive cat, the leopard. It was like waiting for a bus to come and then two appearing at once - I didn't' know which way to point my camera.
The leopard slunk round the rhino and crouched down for a long drink, keeping a wary eye on the rhino as he did so. Then they both vanished into the night, as quietly and as suddenly as they had appeared.

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