Two thousand seven hundred and seven.

That’s how many days it’s taken me to see my first black rhino at Londolozi.

It took only 1068 days until I saw my first Pangolin – considered by many in South African wildlife circles to be the holy grail of sightings – which gives you an idea of just how special this rhino sighting was.

Black rhino do get seen here, but incredibly infrequently. I can count the number of sightings since I’ve been here on the fingers of two hands. Technically I’ve seen a bit of one, but he/it had been killed and half eaten by the Mhangeni pride, so that doesn’t count. A similar state of affairs to the nocturnal Aardvark which continues to elude me; I’ve seen one eaten and half consumed by a leopard, but again, it doesn’t count.

I digress. Back to the rhino.

Whilst the white rhino population here is healthy, as they have access to extensive areas of the grassland and clearings that they prefer, the habitat of Londolozi is simply unsuitable for the black version. I suppose unfavourable would be a better word than unsuitable, but the fact remains that there just aren’t enough euphorbias and Tamboti stands, or extensive thorny thickets – among their main sources of food (black rhinos are browsers, white rhinos are grazers) – to keep a population of the creatures happy.

One of the few black rhino photos of the last decade on Londolozi. Photograph by Londolozi guest Dan Chaknova

Further south in the Sabi Sand Reserve, black rhino are encountered fairly regularly, but a distance of only 20km or so can make a huge difference in habitat, and south of our boundary is where the black rhino line effectively ends. So what was this one doing so far from its usual haunts? Hard to say.
Andrea Sithole found it in the middle of the grasslands, but as it was skittish and running before he had a chance to get a good look at it, he didn’t manage to sex it. Neither did we when we arrived about 20 minutes later, as the creature was far from us and initially nervous. Then once it relaxed it was in a dense stand of russet bushwillows, so we were unable to get a clear view. We could see blood at the base of its horn, which suggested it had been fighting and therefore most likely a male, possibly ousted from a territory and looking for a new one, but to be honest, we were too excited about simply seeing the species in the flesh to be worried about whether it was a male or a female.

A number of rangers headed into the area that afternoon to try and find it, but it had gone. Maybe it’ll turn up in the next day or two, but my guess is that it has retreated back to where it can have access to a ready food supply and find more of its own kind.

I just hope its not another 2700 days before the next one happens along.

Filed under Wildlife

About the Author

James Tyrrell

Photographic Guide/Media Team

James had hardly touched a camera when he came to Londolozi, but his writing skills were well developed, and he was quickly snapped up by the Londolozi blog team as a result. An environment rich in photographers helped him develop the photographic skills ...

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on Black Rhino Seen on Londolozi!

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Marinda Drake

Incredible sighting. Black Rhino are so endangered and it is a privilige to see one in the wild.

Laura Eberly

So very very exciting! They are so magnificent, their quiet strength is a sight to behold. I just hope he / she remains safe from poachers! Poachers seem to be cancerous these days.

Betty-Lou Luijken

That is so wonderful. They are so very much endangered and any new piece of land they make their own is a chance of getting them less endangered, especially i a well protected area. I hope this one stays and reproduces.

Denise Vouri

Wow! After several trips to Africa I’ve yet to see this rhino, nor a pangolin. Maybe next time. A question- what is the difference between a browser and a grazer? Thank you.

James Tyrrell

Hi Denise,

A browser eats mainly leaves and material off trees and bushes, while a grazer eats grass.

Best regards

Mary Beth Wheeler

So exciting to see him!

Joanne Wadsworth

Wonderful video and images of the rare visitation of the black rhino to Londolozi. Genuinely happy for all those who were able to actually see it and soak the moment in their mind. Here’s hoping the wait for the next time won’t be as long!

Ian Hall

A sighting to cherish, I sometimes think the rangers in South Africa (and I am purposely generalising) don’t realise how lucky they are with the Rhino population. In many ways South Africa is the last stronghold of the world’s Rhino population. The first time I saw one in South Africa I stood up and was promptly told in no uncertain terms to sit down. I thought the ranger really did not realise that to simply see any Rhino was a privilege , go to any other country and probably the only place where a sighting can be guaranteed is one crater in Tanzania.

Callum Evans

Oh my word, that is incredible!!! So special to see such a rare and amazing animal! I know a few have also been seen in other parts of Sabi Sands and that Olifants has a resident population!!

Janice Riley

Thank you for sharing this video. Does s/he have a wound on its side?

James Tyrrell

Hi Janice,
Well spotted. Those are in fact lesions caused by a parasite called Filaria. They are very thin worms that eat the skin and associated fluids.
Funnily enough they are not known to infect white rhinos.

Best regards

Janice Riley

Very interesting. Is it life threatening at all? Would rangers ever treat this or is it considered a natural thing, so let mother nature take its course?

James Tyrrell

Hi Janice, no I don’t believe it’s life threatening. It’s a naturally occurring condition so we let nature take its course…

Best regards

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