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Updated: May 11

I find the Rhinoceros to be the most impressive of the Big 5 animals simply because of the ruggedness and unique shape of their bodies. Like the elephant, they made me a little nervous to be close to, even in my rental car. They far outweighed and out muscled my compact car and I am sure they could easily flip it over if they desired.

However, they seemed such a peaceful creature I'm unsure why I was nervous. They never made any aggressive moves even though I had a close encounter with one as I posted here:

This post documented one crazy encounter I had with this amazing animal.

But most my encounters were from afar:

The Rhino likes to hang around water. Not only for drinking but to stay cool in the hot African sun. They can be found wallowing in mud also to stay cool and to keep the parasites and bugs off of them.

Rhino sitings in the park were special to me simply because they were not abundant. I would drive for most of the day in the park, starting from the early morning opening time, and I would be fortunate if I had two sitings. But maybe because I didn't always know where to look.

There are black and white Rhinos in the park, but good luck trying to identify them. That's because they are the same color! The terms black and white is in reference to the mouths. The wider (whiter) mouth of the white Rhino as opposed to the hooked mouth of the black. Really the color terms mean nothing at all in terms of actual color.

The Rhino is an herbivore so they can often be found grazing. It's amazing to me they get to be this size and strength without ample amounts of meaty protein in their diet. The adults can weigh in excess of 2,000 pounds. I wonder what they eat when they go on a diet? No keto for them!

Although some carnivorous animals are known to attack small Rhinos for food, by a large margin the biggest predator is man. Poachers are lured by the horn of this magnificent creature.

The horn is made of keratin, the same thing in your nails, but somehow there is a belief it has some strange medicinal purposes. Additionally, it is used to make daggers in some cultures. The appeal of this horn has been the source of the diminished numbers of these animals.

The Black Rhino is now considered to be critically endangered while the White species is merely threatened, there are an estimated only 3,000 Black Rhinos left on the planet while there are approximately 15,000 White Rhinos.

I feel quite fortunate to be among these incredible animals in their natural habitat. It is a humbling experience to see these majestic creatures up close in a personal experience.

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Updated: May 11

To me, these are the least impressive of the Big 5. But that's just a personal preference. Maybe because they are in abundance and not that threatening looking. But, looks can be deceiving. They are part of the Big 5 for a reason. They can be very dangerous to the hunter, especially if wounded.

These animals are large and heavy with the adults exceeding 1500 lbs or about 750 kg. They mainly eat off the grasslands, so they must consume large amounts to maintain that weight.

I don't recall seeing any walking alone. They are quite gregarious creatures and generally run in large herds. There is safety in numbers, and they use that to their advantage. If a pride of lions should come upon them to feed, the buffalo will use their numbers to gang up on them and stave away their attack.

Both the females and males have horns and are capable of inflicting damage. The male horns are more distinctive with the curvature at the ends of them.

They have a strange glare to them if they look at you. It is said of the them, that they look at you as if you owe them money. Well, if that's true I will gladly pay!

My encounters with the buffalo in the park were quite benign. To me they just seemed like cattle grazing along not paying much attention to the tourists driving through their home in their vehicles. I guess we all just get used to things after awhile, but I would hate for the tables to be turned and have to tolerate them grazing through my house whenever they felt like it.

Here you can see them together in their small herd. I never witnessed a herd of 100's so I cannot tel you how larger the herds can get. the herds I witnessed were more in the 10's.

The ground was quite bare in this area so I am not sure why they were even there, Perhaps they were wandering through or perhaps they had already cleaned out the place.

These appeared to be of the female variety based on the curvature of their horns.

Who do you think will stop first? If you guessed the human, you are right. The animals in the park are conditioned to know they have the right of way so don't play chicken with a buffalo. They likely outweigh you and your compact.

Here's the male. See how his horns are curved inward at the top?

There's that look I was talking about. He is looking for that $20 he thinks I borrowed from him. But hey, I think it was your brother that gave it to me! Oh well, I guess I better pay you.

The African Buffalo, one of the Big 5 at Kruger National Park.

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Updated: May 11

The African elephant is the biggest of the Big 5 in this country. They are actually the biggest animal to walk the earth. They can weigh over 6 tons! They are truly impressive up close. And I was up close to them many times in my self-drive through Kruger Park.

The African elephant is notable for their large ears. These ears are used to radiate heat to keep them cooler in the African heat.

They often roam in clans made up of different families. It is the female elephant, half the size of the male that leads the clan. Well, you know what they say...ain't nobody happy if momma ain't happy!

The elephant feeds on grass and leaves from the trees on the Savannah. Lucky for me they don't eat meat. I don't think my compact car would have offered much protection.

You can see the shadow of my small car in this picture:

I often was surprised by these large beasts in the park. I would go around a corner and there they were. Or I would see them suddenly emerge from the trees. Of the 5 animals of the Big 5, these were the most abundant,

They are a part of the Big 5 because of their unpredictablity and danger they pose to those that used to (and still do) hunt them. Of course, it is illegal to hunt them today, but they are often poached. The lure of the big payday in the ivory tusks is too much for the poor locals.

As a result, there are not as many elephants with large tusks anymore. As the large risked elephants are removed from the gene pool, only the smaller risked animals pass on the genes. Darwinian science in action.

I was definitely most nervous around these animals. They are very imposing by not only their size, but numbers as they move in a clan.

I have heard too many stories, not only in South Africa but also India, of the unpredictability of these monstrosities. You just never know what's going on in their massive heads. Having heard the stories, I believe the old adage about elephants having long memories. I believe they do remember the abuses they have suffered at the hands of man.

One story I heard told when I was in India was that a certain tribe had hunted and killed one of the elephants in a clan. Years later, the clan came to the village and ransacked it as an act of vengeance. They remembered that tribe and what they had inflicted upon the elephant clan, and sought revenge.

I have no idea if that is a true story or simply village legend. But the story was told to me convincing enough that I believed it anyway

Whenever I saw them in advance I stopped the car. I didn't want to get any closer than necessary. I also didn't want to be the cause of any alarm. But, at times close encounter's could not be avoided. I would exhale a sigh of relief each time they passed.

These are certainly beautiful creatures. Although nervous, I enjoyed watching them in their natural environment. I actually rode an elephant in Thailand once. I'll post the pictures some day, but it wasn't my proudest moment. It was my early traveling experience and I was not aware how mishandled these animals were at the time. Not all my travel adventures have been good.

I absolutely loved Kruger Park. I actually went twice and the second time was equally intriguing. The elephants enhanced the experience giving a feeling of both awe and exhilaration. I'm happy all the encounters here went peacefully.

GIF: not an original photo

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