Safari School Rhino Crash

Jan Leeming

Shoreham 2007

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Me looking brave before taking to the air (and the wing) of the plane. Wow, it was cold !! But the whole experience was totally exhilarating.



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Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.

Safari School - Rhino Crash!

Date: 13th June 2006

A Rhino walk was scheduled for after lunch but the wind was very changeable and we were held up for a while during which time the Rangers had to decide whether or not to go ahead. Eventually we did. I had expected to get much closer than we did but it was quite exciting. There were about seven in the Rhino Crash. Then we found out what all the uncertainty had been about in the morning - it was an on/off situation as to whether we'd witness the notching of a rhino's ear. This is for identification and you'd hardly think anyone would steal a rhino but as they are worth around £40,000, it is worth doing.

Eventually, it was decided that the conditions were favourable and the notching would go ahead. We met the vet who would be conducting the 'operation' and he told us all about the sedation etc. It is quite amazing that a huge animal like a rhino only requires the same amount of sedation as a human being. We watched as he prepared the 'dart' containing the sedative and loaded it with distilled water to give the dart weight. He also had ampoules of anti-sedative.

I was fortunate enough to be in the truck with the vet. We were to notch the ear of a young bull rhino who was grazing with one other. We approached in such a way that the vet could get a good shot into the shoulder of the animal. It surprised me that, though our shadow was passing over them, the two rhino continued grazing. After the shot, the two startled animals started to run. They ran for a short distance and then stood back to back - thus giving themselves a larger area of cover against danger. Eventually the one which had been sedated started to walk as if with a goose - step. It took just over 13 minutes for him to fall down. His mate was concerned and had to be driven off with the vehicle. The vet ordered us off the truck and as I was closest he gave me a huge pad of cotton wool and told me to stuff it into the rhino's ears. Although the animal was sedated, he wasn't out cold so to cut off his hearing and his sight was the kindest thing to do. His breath was very raspy - rather like an asthmatic and I found myself stroking his forehead and shushing him like one would to a baby. I'd never liked rhino - finding them quite ugly creatures - but that little experience changed forever my feelings towards them.

We hung around until the rhino was back on his feet - shakily - but back on his feet and happily rejoined by his pal. It was a very moving experience, Graham spoke to me and with the beauty of the sunset, and the experience with the rhino, I found I had tears running down my face. They were tears of happiness not anything else. It was a gorgeous sunset as we made our way back to the Lodge and I so wished - for the umpteenth time, that I'd had my camera with me.

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