Rhino trekking – Bulawayo – Zimbabwe
Bulawayo in Zimbabwe is home to one of Africa’s best Rhino reserves, Matobo National Park. Contrary to popular belief, Rhino’s (white ones at least) are actually a very peaceful and timid animal and they can relatively safely be approached on foot. It was a trek like this that brought us to Bulawayo and was the first time I really felt like I was in the African wilderness as you leave the vehicle and wander around on foot for hours.
Our first spotting was a rather nervous female and calf, they wouldn’t let us get to close before they dashed off, we’d track them for a while until they were within sight again and they’d dash off through the bush.
We had a similar experience with a male a little later. We turned a corner in our jeep and saw him just standing on the side of the road, as soon as he saw us he was off! We leapt out and followed him, again, we didn’t get too close but we were essentially wandering alongside him for 10 or 15 minutes.
Finally, with the help of an armed park guard, we came across a group of 4 lying down in the grass. They let us get really close before the sound of half a dozen camera shutters scared them off.
We had lunch near some ancient bushman cave paintings before we entered the “Intensive Protection Zone” of the park, where they take their Rhino security very seriously. We were shown 2 skeletons, one which had died of old age and the other which was a victim of poaching. You’ll notice in the pictures of Rhino’s here that their horns appear a little blunt, that is because they are removed by the park to de-value them. There is an argument by some (including our guides) that these removed horns should be allowed to be sold to further de-value Rhino’s, they are currently stock piled due to the international ban on ivory trading.
As we were speeding out of the park (you had to be out by sunset, or else you’d be locked in) we stumbled upon a female and her calf chilling out on the road. They let us snap a few shots before disappearing into the bush.
Oh yeah, the park also had some rather stunning scenery.