World Rhino Day – Protective Instincts

Posted on:September 22, 2014

With a growing environmental conscience, nothing touches me quite the way a stay in the Kruger National Park does. With our natural world shrinking, it is an immense privilege to experience this vast original world. The Rhino Walking Safaris of Isibindi Africa are one of the greatest privileges within a privilege – an opportunity to engage in a very different way with this endangered species. Guided walks with expert rangers allow one to get close, with some degree of safety, to this hulking but silent creature.


Rhino Walking Safari - photograph by Guy Upfold

Rhino Walking Safari – photo by Guy Upfold



There is nothing more mindful than walking on foot in a Big 5 game reserve. One is acutely aware of every crunch, waft and rustle. Part fear, part exhilaration, it is an experience which is hard to describe. My soul lifts in recognition of some ancient and primal life force and I find myself thoroughly appreciating every minute.


Rhino Walking Safari - photo by Guy Upfold

Rhino Walking Safari – photo by Guy Upfold


We come across a mother and baby rhino – always a dangerous combination in the wild. I watch the baby rhino get a fright and his mother turn to cover him in an instant. I feel my heart leap in protection and the image haunts me as I imagine how many such experiences of real fear and loss we have caused. The words of Alan Paton in Cry the Beloved Country so beautifully put it:

“Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing, nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or a valley.”

I have rather gladly lost my heart to this place. And thankfully, like that mother rhino protecting her baby, it feels like Kruger National Park is a sanctuary for immense biodiversity. The rangers at the Rhino Safari Lodge and Plains Tented Camp are also visibly protective and passionate about their natural world and I am very grateful that there are dedicated people like this taking care of our heritage.

In the same book, Paton writes “Who indeed knows the secret of the earthly pilgrimage? Who indeed knows why there can be comfort in a world of desolation?” I find a similar consolation within the sadness and fear and am left inspired and immeasurably grateful for this time. I highly recommend a pilgrimage to this sacred place and the loss of your heart to its beauty.


Kruger 2010 1


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