Tracking the White Rhino of Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park

When I began writing about travel a year and a half ago I never thought I’d find myself tracking rhino through a national park in Africa. This wasn’t just any rhino. We were searching for the white rhinos that were once near extinction in Zambia. By 2010, there was only one rhino left due to poaching.

The African Wildlife Foundation partnered with the Zambia Wildlife Authority to bring four white rhinos from South Africa to Zambia. Now there are over 10 that reside in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. The park is quite small compared to others (only 66 square kilometers). It sits along the Zambezi river which includes one of the seven natural wonders of the world-Victoria Falls.

During my trip last fall, we visited the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. The drive out into the park was so fun. We saw monkeys, giraffe, and even elephants.  Just like the other animals we expected to drive by the rhino. We were certainly in for a treat. Our driver took us to a gated area. There stood a guard and we were told to get out of the jeep. We were going to begin our journey to search for the white rhino. It was hard to miss the guards armed with AK-47 rifles who were there to protect the rhino from poaching. They stand guard 24/7. While they looked scary with their big guns, they all had a heart for wanting to keep watch over these animals. I couldn’t believe what was happening. When we were told we had the opportunity to visit the park we had no idea we’d actually be walking up to these incredible animals. This wasn’t just any safari!

The guards guided us in a single file line. We were to remain quiet and not make any sudden movements. While the rhino have become used to the guards, they are still quite aggressive, protective, and can move very quickly.

It was surreal to stand there seeing these beautiful animals and even more so when the sun began to fall. One of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in my travels so far is an African sunset.

“Africa changes you forever, like nowhere on earth. Once you have been there, you will never be the same. But how do you begin to describe its magic to someone who has never felt it? How can you explain the fascination of this vast, dusty continent, whose oldest roads are elephant paths? Could it be because Africa is the place of all our beginnings, the cradle of mankind, where our species first stood upright on the savannahs of long ago?” Brian Jackman

Africa has always been #1 on my bucket list. I was only there for one week. That was not near enough time to explore and it left me aching for more. There’s so much more to see and I can’t wait to return.

 

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