Awful Wi-Fi here but whilst I am exploring the Kruger with my Dutchie, I thought I would retell this story to keep you entertained.
There is nothing more exciting for me than a last minute equaliser or winner during a football game. The ecstasy and jubilation of seeing that net bulge in the ninetyth minute is unrivalled. So as Liverpool trailed one nil at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago, Daniel Sturridge collected the ball on the edge of the area, he pulled back his left foot and time stood still. The next few seconds as the ball sailed through the air and nestled into the top corner seemed to go on forever, there was a split second silence as the net bulged but then the noise erupted. I jumped up and cheered, punching the air in celebration even though I was the only person watching the football in the bar. My reaction was subconscious, there was nothing I could do to stop me acting like that, fast forward a few weeks and I did almost exactly the same whilst out on game drive.
The morning had been cold and drizzly yet although the weather promised little, a beautiful martial eagle sighting and a magnificent elephant sighting did the job to raise our damp spirits. I only had two guests who were on their honeymoon and their luck had certainly been in. Their first ever animal on their first ever safari was a leopard. How lucky for them! Little do people as lucky as that realise the timeless agony some of us go through just to catch a glimpse of such a beautiful cat, yet this leopard was happily lazing around on a kopjie. Their luck was about to get even better.
The morning’s drizzle had eased off yet the temperature had stayed cool, after doing some hectic off roading we had three lionesses lazing by a kudu carcass. Breathing heavily and with bulging bellies, these cats were going nowhere. We left the sighting and as we did so the radio crackled into life. My favourite animal out here had been spotted a long way away. My mind was torn, already the guide was losing visual of this animal, but you just never know. I asked my guests if they were happy to take the risk and go to that area. They wanted to. Perfect. We made our way, but of course the elusive beast was nowehere to be seen. He was in the area and that is all I needed. Like a sniffer dog I circled the area again and again, I told my guests I would not give up until there was no light left in the sky. I have told you that I am obsessive!
Other guides had given up and gone for a sunset drink, the light was fading all too fast for my liking but still we drove on, circling and circling. “Wait.” My guest asked me to stop, I took the binoculars: false alarm. It was just rocks. We carried on, the road curved to the South. “Stop! There it is, there it is!” The conviction in the guest’s voice told me we had him, but I didn’t get too carried away just yet. The outline of two conical ears were just visible. I couldn’t believe it myself, surely not?! I used my binoculars to double check. The jubilation and ecstasy that I had described previously overtook me. My professional figure was lost, silently I punched the air, I head rubbed my guest and I celebrated as if the net had bulged from a ninetyth minute winner. I did not forget where I was, I did all of this in silence because of the temperamental nature of the animal that we were watching. I called it in on the radio “We have him! We have him!” My excitment was obviously noticed because the radio then became a buzz of activity as the rest of the guides asked for standbys to come and see this magnificent beast. We stayed and watched, under the curious gaze of one of the most aggressive animals on the African continent. Brilliantly, he wasn’t bothered by us at all, he posed for the camera, walked closer then posed again. After ten minutes or so he ambled off into the deeper bush leaving me feeling on top of the world and with a smile that would last all night long and into the next week. A truly magical moment that will stay with me forever but unfortunately words could never do it justice.
It is a strange and sad thing to think that this animal has no idea how threatened and endangered it is, yet it brings so much joy to those who are lucky enough in their life to see one. I hope we can protect this iconic species for many generations to come yet I am doubtful. The animal I am referring to is the magnificent, beautiful and elusive black rhino.
Stay safe out there.