Friday, June 22

Are rhinos stubborn?

Two of the more intriguing collective name's for a mammal are for the rhinoceros, i.e. (1) a crash, or (2) a stubbornness.

I have always rather fancied the term “crash”. It conjures up a wonderful mind-picture of the probable consequences of running, accidentally of course, full tilt into two or more rhinos.

When one sees a fully grown white (aka square-lipped) rhinoceros “in the flesh”, then the term “stubborn” also becomes a lot more imaginable.......

Most of you reading this blog posting are probably aware of the viciously cruel and highly illegal war currently being waged against the rhino – all for the sake of unproven, traditional medicines – the power of belief..........

I'm not going to go in that direction right here, but at the bottom of this posting I've provided a couple of links for those of you who would wish to know a bit more about what's happening in that space.

The main purpose of this particular posting is to share with you, via some of my favourite photos, the magnificence of these prehistoric looking creatures.

In Southern Africa we have both the White (Square-lipped) Rhino and the Black (Hook-lipped) Rhino. Nothing to do with their colour – they are both dark grey when seen “clean” of any mud or dust. But they are quite different species - one eats grass, the other leaves & twigs; one's a lot bigger, the other more the size of a buffalo; the white tends to be more placid, the black more nervous and/or aggressive.... the list goes on....

Only a hundred years ago the White Rhino was on the brink of extinction and up until quite recently the rhino most likely to be seen in the wild was the Black Rhino. That situation has switched quite dramatically in the last 30 years. Incredible conservation efforts in South Africa brought the White rhino back, off the endangered list. Now, most of us who spend a lot of time in the bush, get VERY excited when we see Black rhino.

That's one reason why I decided to post about the rhino this week. My clients and I had an unusually great,  “once in a lifetime”, sighting of a Black rhino last week and I wanted to share those photos plus a few more.....

That Black Rhino

"Once in a lifetime" sighting - Black Rhino drinking at a waterhole

We definitely see the White Rhino more often, many times in a "crash"........

Wallowing - a favourite pastime

White Rhino

Black Rhino

  1. Please note that I have carefully selected and edited the photos for this posting, not just for the rhino “story”, but also so that the rhino locations cannot be readily identified by potential illegal hunters / poachers.
  2. Related links / articles on the rhino "war":-

    a) National Geographic Rhino Wars
          b) The latest statistics from National Parks Sanparks news

Two White Rhino males "facing off"

Saturday, June 9

Taken by Sharks

Last week I turned down a safari to go shark diving!

Aliwal Shoal is one of South Africa's better known dive sites ( click here for more info).
Diving on the Shoal can be pretty horrendous or spectacularly awesome.

The last time I dived there was 7 years ago, so when my Dive School (Fintastic) had a Shark Specialty course scheduled, with 2 dives on Aliwal, I booked it out in my diary – safari's or not!!

Aliwal Shoal is just south of Durban on our East Coast, so it is a long drive from my home in Johannesburg. But it was also a good time to visit family in Durban, so I turned the trip into a 12 day break away – not just a weekend of shark diving.......

In addition, I decided to turn the conventional 6-7 hour highway drive into a longer, more leisurely exploration of the back roads and byways of the Free State and rural Zululand.
Early winter is always a good time to see our impressive country, fading to ash blonde from the vibrant green and golds of late summer.

…............and 4 days later I am still sorting through the 1000+ photos I took of landscapes, seascapes, cityscapes, flowers, family, sharks, turtles.............

Here are some of my favourite photos so far.........

Crossing the Free State
also known as the Province of Gold - after it's endless maize fields, wide open grasslands and abyssal gold mines....

The colourful sights of Durban's beach front........

on a mild winter's afternoon, and a busy Sunday morning.....

Winter flowers in the sub tropics.....

Reach for the sky on Umhlanga Rocks beach front!


The diving!!

We saw turtles and sharks (one Bull shark, and many "Raggies") on every dive.

The underwater visibility was good, for Aliwal anyway, and the water a mild 22 deg C.

Surface conditions were quite rough but fortunately I don't suffer from sea sickness, unlike some of my companions.......
Ragged Tooth Sharks

and there's nothing like a chilled glass of wine to wrap up a great day out on the Indian Ocean

After eleven days in the balmy sea airs of Kwa-Zulu Natal, it was time to head home for the chilly highveld.

Through the lush green sugar plantations;

dramatic, but barren Zululand valleys;

crossing the Thukela (aka Tugela) River;

climbing back up the Escarpment to the rolling grasslands of home....

Footnote- Sharks are one of our world's most graceful, apex predators and seriously threatened by man and his appetites. For more info on what's happening with them, this is a good web site to start with.....