Rhino! Ooh!


 

We watched the sunrise from our room this morning; a shimmering pink ball rising through a pale blue sky. We didn’t feel the need to get up though and left the door open to the terrace while we all read for a bit and listened to the birdsong. We walked up the hill for breakfast at about 7.30, filling up on fruit and scrambled eggs and muffins and coffee. Ready for the day, we packed up, picked up our  lunches and headed back down the track to the main road to Etosha. Its the national park of which Namibia is most proud, established in 1907 and encompassing a vast salt pan that was a lake in prehistoric times. Its relative lack of vegetation means animals are fairly easy to see and once through the park gate we turned off to a waterhole and it was as if someone flicked the “animals on” switch.
Big oryx walked purposefully about while zebra swished their tales and looked bored. Ostrich – which looked enormous – pecked at things. A herd of wildebeest grazed in the scrub and a little jackal hovered on the fringes. None of them took much notice of us.
We drove on and looped along the dusty roads skirting the salt pan which looked as if it had water in it just this morning; a vast flat stretch of grey that vanished off to the horizon. It was like Weston-Super-Mare when the tide’s out.
We had our lunches at another waterhole watching some enormous giraffes cautiously splay their legs to have a drink, like so many tawny tripods.
Halali campground where we are now is a big dusty place in the middle of East Etosha.
Its fairly full and we are somewhat cheek by jowl with other four by fours with tents and trailers. Some have clever foldout compartments containing plate racks and larders and grills. Nearly everyone is South African it seems and this, I suppose is the equivalent of a weekend in Margate for them. Halali’s main attraction is its waterhole which has benches overlooking it from on top of a small cliff. We walked over just after sunset when it is lit by weak incandescent lights. There were two rhino not fifty feet from us, looking a bit mournful.

They are basically dinosaurs with their armour plated hide and polished horns. They come across as not that bright, taking offence at more or less anything. One of them spent some time butting a log it didn’t like.  But the longer we watched the more interesting they became.

One male was very aggressive with others that approached the hole and kept driving them away but he ignored a juvenile on the other side of the waterhole. Eventually, having driven his rivals off the big rhino went off into the scrub and came back with a female and a calf in tow. They went to drink while the male did his guard duty act again. The juvenile was off to one side watching the calf and eventually sidled over very slowly – the mother keeping an eye on him all the time. When he was alongside them he moved his head to the calf and the two spent some time with their noses almost touching. It was such a tender scene and the adults seemed to know that the juvenile posed no threat. Mum eventually moved him off though – with a look and a small movement his way.

During one standoff which involved much snorting and charging and clouds of dust, a lioness walked quietly to the waterhole and drank for several minutes.

 

Lions can go for days without a drink and when she left her belly was like a huge rugby ball.

Its about nine now and Tom has gone to bed. P and I would like to be asleep too but a large group in one of those overland buses is still having a high old time so I think we will have to sit it out for a bit. We’ll read under the stars and finish the cocoa we brought with us to the waterhole. Night all.
Categories: Namibia

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