Rhinos - The Last of their Kind
Photographing rhinos (and especially black rhinos) in the wild is largely a matter of luck. What is it that makes these enormous beasts so fascinating? I think it is
simply their behavior, which is completely diff erent from that of almost all of the tired-looking specimens that we know from zoos around the world. Rhinos are
extremely timid, very cautious, and rare. Only a handful of the thousands of black rhinos that once populated East Africa survived the massed hunting and
poaching of late 20th century. The surviving animals were also seriously endangered until a young bull from the Serengeti joined the crater population, proving that the animals still follow long, thousand-yearold migratory routes in spite of the modern park borders. There are now about 60 black rhinos living in the wild in the Ngorongoro Crater and the rest of the Serengeti.
The rhinos were hunted and poached for their horns, which were (and unfortunately, still are) prized as dagger handles by Arab potentates and are ground to a powder that is supposed (predominantly in China) to enhance virility. The animals’ corpses were left to rot once the horns had been stolen and, even today, a single horn is worth 100 times the average East African annual wage. For this reason, the remaining animals are protected around the clock by park rangers.
Rhinos can be dangerous although, as Professor Grzimek proved, they often mount fake charges. Sometimes, even the people whose job it is to protect them have been fatally injured by rhinos charging at 25 mph. They have weak eyesight but can scent other animals over distances of many miles.
A rhino mother with a calf in tow will stop every few yards and smell the air in all directions to make sure that her baby is not in danger from a predator.
In bright sunlight, and at any distance, you will need eagle eyes to be able to tell a dozing rhino from a weather-beaten termite mound. If you manage to
make out a rhino, you “only” need to fi nd a track that leads near enough to it to take a photo. Rhinos are mostly found in areas where off -road driving is prohibited.
@ by Uwe Skrzypczak - www.serengeti-wildlife.com
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