Walking back in time
Walking back in time
BY : CAROL O’NEILL-WILLIAMS
Twice a day, throughout the year – come rain or shine – small groups of not more than eight people set off on a guided walk through the park with Livingstone Rhino Safaris. I have had the privilege of joining one of these groups and it is an activity I would strongly recommend to anyone who is visiting Livingstone.
After refreshments and a short briefing (walk in single file; do not break away from the group; keep as quiet as possible; don’t run screaming if we come across a herd of elephant; do what the guide tells you; do not remove anything from the park...) we set off in the company of our guide and a game warden, who was armed for our protection.
Someone in the group spotted a herd of wildebeest huddled under a small copse of trees in the distance, so we headed off in that direction to try and get a closer look at them. The trees and wildebeest were at the top of a fairly steep incline, so our guide kindly stopped along the way to show us a phalanx of army ants marching along the path. During another break he pointed out some trees, telling us how a tea made from their bark can be used to treat malaria.
After a few minutes photographing the wildebeest our guide told us we should keep walking if we were to see the rhino. On we went.
Suddenly the guide stopped walking and held his hand up in the universal sign meaning ‘Stop!’
Among the bushes in the distance I first noticed two rangers carrying rifles. Then what I had taken to be a couple of large boulders started to move; my eyes came into focus and I realised I had been looking at a group of rhino lying on the ground next to a large tree. Our guide motioned for us all to move into a tight group so that the rhino would be less likely to either spook and run away, or charge at us, and together we crept forward.
I lost track of time, watching as these magnificent animals carried on doing what rhino do. This was not a lot; they are not very active in the heat of the day - mostly they just lie about in the shade, or roll in the sand to keep the flies and parasites away. It struck me how vulnerable they were; unaware of our presence since we were downwind, and their having relatively poor eyesight, we managed to get very close to them!