This childhood memory has stayed with me since I was about 3 years old. My family had travelled from Kenya to Tanzania to visit the Ngorongoro Crater. This crater, which is 18 Kilometres across, is the largest perfect unbroken caldera in the world. Surrounded by very step walls which rise 610 meters from the crater floor, this natural amphitheatre is home to a spectacular array of wildlife.
The crater was and still is a conservation area and vehicle movement was restricted, as a result we had to travel in the Rangers’ Land Rover rather than my parent’s car. On this particular day we were standing in the back of the Land Rover looking out for wildlife when a Black Rhino broke cover and charged the moving vehicle.
It was clear that this was not a dummy charge and an instant before the Rhino hit the vehicle the driver slammed on the brakes. Apparently this is considered the best thing to do when being charged by a Rhino as it confuses the Rhino which expects most things to run away. In its confusion the Rhino missed the Land Rover by a couple of feet. I remember watching the Rhino charge and all the adults falling over as we came to a halt. When the vehicle stopped I thought it had been rammed.
My Father tells me that he remembers watching the Rhino try to regain the initiative having narrowly missed us. He describes how; determined to face the vehicle the Rhino planted a forefoot and literally span with three feet off the ground before landing facing the vehicle. Dad recalls how the momentum of the speeding Rhino actually resulted in the beast sliding backwards to a halt.
Early Memories - Tanzania I
The Rhino came from nowhere
at thirty five miles an hour.
As he tried hard to ram us
in the vehicle we did cower.
Then just before impact
the ranger stopped the Rover.
The rhino missed by inches
and the adults all fell over.
John Carré Buchanan 19 January 2012
Image: Rhino Charge by Peter Delaney. Tuesday, 23rd August 2011 - earthshots.org