It was the time of morning in Namibian midwinter when it switches from cold to hot; I removed my jacket and went from dreading washing out the feeding bowls with cold water to savouring the feeling of the water on my hands. Finishing the last bowl, I bent and hoisted it over my head to carry it from the water trough to the feeding area. When I turned around, however, I had discovered I had a new audience.
Likely mistaking the commotion at the feeding area, for Juliette bringing them Lucerne to eat, Job and Kassandra had appeared out of the bush. For such huge animals, rhinos blend and move through the bush in a manner you wouldn’t believe. They’re slightly lighter coloured than most of our rhinos here, with darker underbellies, and they sit at the edge of the circle of feeding bowls expectantly, puzzled as to the lack of Lucerne in the bowls we’ve already returned from cleaning. Job peeks out curiously from behind Kassandra’s hind legs, trying to decipher the motions of the strange creatures who move around in loud metal boxes.
I cautiously continue carrying the feeding bowl towards its designated spot, eyeing our horn adorned friends. There’s no need for me to get too close; I can drop the bowl at the edge of the road and be back in the buggy without getting close enough to spook anyone. Working with rhinos requires a certain amount of trust and caution. On one hand, they’re not unfriendly. On the other hand, they’re not particularly frightened of us either, and can go from a standstill to a charge faster than you can say White Rhinoceros. You can keep your distance, but ultimately it’s their friendly attitude that you rely upon.
Kassandra and Job are feeling particularly friendly this morning. Maybe, thinks Job, this is the bowl with the food in it! He dashes excitedly around behind his mother as she walks slowly towards me, lifting his horn proudly and kicking up red Namibian dust. I tell Kassandra, loudly, that I have no food, and she pauses, looking at me doubtfully. Job skids to a halt on her right flank and dips his head to investigate the ground a bit. While young, he weighs several times the amount I do, and is simply adorable, but as a calf he is more prone to a sudden charge than his mother.
Therefore I decide caution that it is the better part of valor and drop the food bowl where I am before retreating to the buggy. The sound of the bowl hitting the ground spooks Job a bit, and he does a quick lap around his mother, who looks at me, disappointed in the lack of Lucerne. They’ll have to wait a bit, for feeding time, but as there’s plenty to eat in the bush, I see them turn and go searching for more dependable food sources as we trundle off.
Date of Birth: 29 July 2017
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