Amazing to see we are almost halfway with the campaign! Thank you so much to everyone who supported Transfrontier Africa! I'm sure everyone who has visited TA or elsewhere in Africa has a cool animal encounter. Mine happened about 3 years ago while piloting a study together with Paul.
In the pilot study, we were trying to figure out what the best method was to set fake snares to test whether they get detected by ranger teams. Paul helped with identifying a few test locations and we set out to set a number of these snares.
All went well, and we arrived at the site without any problems. We quickly scouted the site and found a good spot to conduct our little experiment. We're chatting while walking back to the car, but suddenly spotted two large animals on my right: two black rhinos, a mother and an older calf. The rhinos were already looking in our direction, but still not sure whether we were a threat or not. Paul quickly took charge of the situation and guided us away from the rhinos. Luckily nothing happened, but my heart was racing! I also remembered Paul's words: "Keep an eye out for any climbable trees". Not a reassuring thought, but happy that we and the black rhinos are safe.
The next problem was that the rhinos were in between us and the car. This means we had to take a little detour and loop around to get to the car. However, the rhinos were in our way, again! This time we spotted them before we did. Paul heard a chewing sound and went to check it out what actually was going on. Apparently, the mom and young rhino also looped around but in the opposite direction, or somehow followed us. But again, no conflict and we managed to leave them feeding in peace while still being in one piece.
I've never experienced rhinos this close and it's a totally different experience to see them on foot instead of from a vehicle. It makes you feel very vulnerable, but also makes you respect the animal so much more. They have their own space and have been surviving for generations. For that reason alone these animals, but also all other wildlife for that matter, deserve our respect and support.