Saturday, June 16, 2012
I Was Startled By a Rhinoceros Crossing the Road
My experience as described by my husband
On the afternoon of June the 12th, 2012 my husband and I decided to visit Kragga Karma Animal Park in South Africa. We had been there two months previously and enjoyed viewing the various animals. We paid our one hundred Rand entrance fee and proceeded through the park. The park ranger had given us a map and pointed to areas of the road that could be challenging to navigate due to rain of the previous two days. “Avoid the muddy trenches,” he said, “and drive upon the grass along the roadside as needed.” We knew from past experience that after a day of rainfall, wild animals like to emerge from the bushes to graze on grassland and enjoy the hot sun. We were hopeful we would see many of them.
We followed the winding muddy road, parking to observe the zebras, wart hogs, and springboks munching on grass nearby. The wildebeasts were present in numbers crossing in front of us as well as behind. They seemed unmindful of the car’s presence and undisturbed by the two occupants taking photos with outreached camera from a window. As we continued along the road I drank from a bottle of vitamin water until it was all gone. I like vitamin water; it has an appealing taste especially when thirsty.
In the distance, some one hundred and fifty yards, we observed three rhinos grazing facing toward us. We decided to park and see how close they would come in the hope of obtaining some good photos. In the process of some twenty-five minutes, they drew nearer until they were but a few feet away. We got some marvelous camera shots, something that would have been impossible had we not waited patiently and if other cars were present. As they moved toward the rear of the car, I told my husband to backup and we would attempt to get more shots. He did so and the rhinos continued grazing unheeded by the car’s presence and quiet purr of the engine. We took some more closeups until the rhinos moved away disappearing behind some bushes.
Pleased with the rhinoceros photo experience, we continued on our drive observing more wild life, enjoying the various sights and taking more photos. The afternoon had turned out to be a bright sunny one, and with no other cars around, the more ideal conditions for our photo taking.
Soon, the effects of drinking the bottle of vitamin water began to take its toll and the need to answer the call of nature became more apparent. I was aware of the park rule, “At no time get out of your car.” I knew it could be dangerous, that three weeks ago a woman had been attacked by a cheetah in this very park, but that was in an enclosed area. Also, last week in a different park, a man had been gored by a water buffalo. However, at this point I didn’t care. I told my husband to pull over by some nearby bushes. He did so and I descended from the car to answer nature’s call.
While pleasantly engaged in the attitude of relief and feeling better by the second, I was startled by a rhinoceros crossing the road a few feet in front of me. So unexpected was this event that the shock propelled me backward and I became wedged between the door and the car. Utterly confused, thinking the rhino was an approaching car and that I would be in full view of its occupants, I attempted to stand and extricate myself from my entrapment. However, the more I struggled to stand, the more wedged, helpless and exposed I became. The noise of the rhino trudging through the bushes seemed like the car was drawing closer and added to my panic. After three anxious efforts I was able to stand and quickly re-compose the natural wearing of my apparel. I quickly entered the car, closed the door, and emitted a huge sigh, thankful that I had not been gored by a rhino nor seen as a flasher by occupants of an approaching car.
We journeyed on through the park chuckling at this experience, mindful that park warning signs do serve a purpose and that rhinos do cross roads, not out of interest in a woman in the attitude of relief, but merely to get to the other side. It was an eventful day entertaining, interesting and enjoyable.
Should you ever come to Africa and drive through an animal park, my advice to you is: never drink a full bottle of water for in answering the resulting call to nature, you may be startled by a rhinoceros crossing the road in front of you.