Sunday, September 14, 2014

Africa 18: Close Encounters with Rinos and Elephants

Rinos have been poached nearly into extinction.  Why? A single Rhino horn can fetch upwards of $50,000 or more.

On our last day in Zimbabwe we visited a Rhino reserve.  This is a five square mile, fenced and guarded sanctuary where Rinos can hopefully live in peace.

We were sitting in our open Rover in a reserve clearing when this guy strolled into view.

His horn has been cut in an attempt to keep poachers, who might break into the reserve, from killing him.

He came up to within four feet of our Rover and sniffed at us.  After deciding that we were harmless, he turned and strolled away.

Moments later, several others wandered into the clearing.

One of them took a special interest in us.  He walked right over to the edge of our truck.

Our guide became suddenly nervous.  "Be quiet and don't move," he whispered.

Here the Rino is checking out the side of our truck, right next to me.  When I snapped this picture, his horn was less than two feet away from the end of my lens.

His curiosity at last satisfied, the big guy wandered off, much to the relief of our guide.

"Don't see that very often," he said as we headed out of the clearing.

Moments later, we found ourselves at our next adventure.  Melony has always wanted to ride an elephant.  Naturally, if she did, I figured I should as well.

These adolescent elephants were rescued as babies in the wild.  They have been raised their entire lives to be around people.

We posed for pictures before the ride.  While we were posing, my elephant was being fed a steady stream of tasty pellets.  I'm placing some in his trunk in the first image.  He is eating them in this one.

Melony's elephant is looking for treats also.  We went for a nice long ride through the countryside. 

Our elephants seemed quite happy to have us on board. They work only a few hours each day. The rest of the time they are free to hang out in the reserve and enjoy being elephants.

Here you can see how his trunk has the equivalent of a thumb and forefinger, which allows him to easily pick up treats on the ground.

Recommendation:  If you ever get a chance, do this.  You won't be sorry.

 Next time, we visit Victoria Falls.

Continue on to Post 19: We visit Victoria Falls, by clicking here.


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