Rhino day!…A comedy of errors, well, sort of…Stuff happens…

Due to other vehicles in the way, we couldn’t get a photo with all four of them together. But, we were thrilled to get these. 

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Large insect in the plunge pool. We lifted her out with the net and sent her on her way.

Yesterday at 9:00 am, we left the house to head to Kruger National Park to meet up with friends Cathi and Rick, with whom we became friends in Kauai, Hawaii, in 2015. We’ve been so excited to see them again here in South Africa.

Only on one other occasion had we been this close to rhinos in Kruger National Park.

Having visited Africa in the past, their enthusiasm for wildlife and nature provided the four of us with a commonality of interests that we share with many of our friends here in Marloth Park. We were excited to see them and looked forward to the day.

With a plan to meet at the Mug & Bean Restaurant located in Kruger National Park in the Lower Sabie area at 11:00 am, we felt confident that leaving by 9:00 would get us to the location without a problem, leaving us plenty of time to stop for photos of any possible sightings. Visitors must drive slowly based on 50 km per hour speed limits (31 mph) and frequent wildlife crossings.

There were four rhinos by the tar road.

By 9:30, we were inside the Crocodile Bridge Gate and ready to travel the hour-long drive to Lower Sabie, a popular spot where visitors to the park can take a break from game driving, have a meal, buy souvenirs and relax, entranced by wildlife on the Sabie River. (Over the next few days, we’ll share many photos from this spectacular location).

Such peculiar-looking beasts, aren’t they?

With breathtaking sightings along the way, including the “crash” (yep, that’s right, a “crash” of rhinos) of four rhinos grazing and lingering on the side of the Gomondwane Road, the tar road that runs through the park, we had plenty of time to stop for photos and still arrive at the Mug & Bean at 10:50.

We had an excellent start to the day. We encountered three of the Big Five in the first 10 km (6.2 miles). Oddly, even with great “safari luck,” we’ve yet to spot a lion or leopard in Kruger during these past four months of many visits to Kruger.  (We arrived in Marloth Park precisely four months ago today, on February 11th). 

From this site: “Members of the rhinoceros family are some of the largest remaining megafaunas, with all species able to reach or exceed one tonne in weight. Their skin looks a little too large for their bodies. They have a herbivorous diet, small brains (400–600 g) for mammals of their size, one or two horns, and thick (1.5–5 cm) protective skin formed from layers of collagen positioned in a lattice structure.”

Surely, in time we will see lions and leopards.  In the interim, we’re not obsessed with the fact we haven’t seen them yet.  It’s more of a fluke than anything. And, due to the fact we jump for joy at the sighting of any wildlife, including those in our yard daily, we’re pretty content.

We made our way to the Mug & Bean, one of few “trendy” type restaurants we’ve seen since back in the US a year ago at this time. The photo-laden menu was a wealth of delicious-looking options, many of which I can’t eat, but there were several possibilities with a few modifications.

From this site:  “They generally eat leafy material, although their ability to ferment food in their hindgut allows them to exist on more fibrous plant matter when necessary. Unlike other perissodactyls, the two African species of rhinoceros lack teeth at the front of their mouths, relying instead on their lips to pluck food.”

No Cathi and Rick and the four friends that had joined them on this African adventure. We were situated at a good table with a bird’s eye view of the entrance to the restaurant and waited and waited and waited. I ordered an iced tea.  Tom didn’t call a thing. We both wanted to stay and dine with our friends once they arrived.

Several times, one of us got up from our table and searched the area, thinking we may have somehow missed them. It made no sense at all. Two hours passed, and we finally gave up. There was no WiFi available, and the hotspot we’d borrowed from Louise for our time in South Africa couldn’t get a signal. There was no way to call or communicate.
Grazing togetherness.

At first, we shrugged our shoulders, thinking somehow our wires had crossed. But then, we became worried something dreadful may have happened to them.
As a result, the return drive through the park, even with many more sightings, left us feeling a bit disjointed. What had happened? They wouldn’t intentionally “stand us up.”

Once back home, around 4:00 pm, I received a peculiar message from Cathi using a park employee’s email, wondering what had happened to us. In the interim, we’d called their hotel, leaving a message. They urgently contact us to let us know they were OK.

In 2017, 1028 rhinos were poached in South Africa, most in Kruger National Park. For more information on rhino poaching, please click here.

What if they were kidnapped, car-jacked, or had an accident on the road? We had no way of knowing. They weren’t at their hotel. Once we received the message from a stranger’s email, we felt somewhat better.

This morning, there was a lengthy text from Cathi to which I responded with neither of us understanding how and why we never saw one another at the location. It will remain a mystery forever.

From this site:  “Rhinoceros are killed by some humans for their horns, which are bought and sold on the black market, and used by some cultures for ornaments or traditional medicine. East Asia, specifically Vietnam, is the largest market for rhino horns. By weight, rhino horns cost as much as gold on the black market. People grind up the horns and consume them, believing the dust has therapeutic properties.”

After speaking on the phone this morning, we redefined a new plan for this Wednesday at 11:00 am, when we’ll return to Kruger, and this time, without a doubt, we’ll find each other. Go figure. Stuff happens. Again, in the realm of things, we’re all safe and healthy. Besides, we all had a great time on our game drives through the park. That’s one drive that’s not hard to take.

Baby and mom walking off together.

After a fitful night’s sleep (or lack thereof) for both of us, we’ll lie low today, perhaps considering a 20-minute nap at some point. It’s not quite as cool as it had been, but we’re comfortable on the veranda awaiting the return of the wildlife who seem to disappear each weekend and magically return by Monday or Tuesday.

Oops!  Gotta go!  Ms. Bushbuck (Tom’s Girl), her baby, and auntie just arrived, and she’s peeking over the edge of the veranda, batting her lovely long lashes, with a look that says,,, “What have you got for us today? Pellets, carrots, apples?”  

Tom ran for the pellet container while I grabbed the produce bowl I prepare each morning from the refrigerator, and in a matter of seconds, they were gracefully nibbling on the treats. They are so dainty when they eat.

Have a great beginning of another week in June with summer rapidly approaching for some, and for all of us in this part of the world, winter is on the horizon. 

Photo from one year ago today, June 11, 2017:

Metal sea sculptures for sale at the gift shop in Butchart Gardens, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. (To respect the privacy of our family members while visiting Minnesota, we continued to post photos from our last port of call. Soon, Minnesota “year ago” photos will commence). For more photos, please click here.

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