Today I want to share a moment where we felt the emotional connection of a world without rhinos. We have many fabulous game reserves in Zululand but one quite dear to our hearts is a lesser known reserve called Mkhuze. It is on the slopes of the Ubombo mountains, a reserve of thorn bush, sand and fig forests, fever trees and scrub. There is a magnificent shallow pan where hippos and numerous water birds are to be found and one of the best photographic hides at a water hole called Kwa Masinga. Here a parade of animals come down to drink and the birds swoop soar and chatter.
It is our alma mater in the bush university of nature photography and has always been blessed with a healthy rhino population, sometimes as many as 5 or 7 rhinos would amble or thunder down there in the late afternoon glow. So feeling the need for some soul soothing we headed there this weekend for the first time in a long time. We sat at the water hole and we cruised the bush and no rhinos appeared. Indeed it felt eerily quiet. We looked closer and could find no trace of our rhinos anywhere. No foot prints no rhino middens nothing. We moseyed over to the game ranger and found to our distress that almost all the rhinos in the reserve had been removed because of the high poaching.
So now we are suddenly faced with a world without rhinos. It’s like a fast forward to the worst case scenario. There is an emptiness in your core, a hole in your heart. Suddenly this reserve feels less, smaller, empty. Is this how it will be when there are finally no more rhinos? It is a sobering thought and a feeling we do not wish to embrace.