Saving rhinos in Namibia
It was late afternoon. We were driving back to camp. Suddenly the radio burst into life. The trackers had a sighting!
My guide drove like a man possessed, crashing through ditches and racing across the plains, aware of the distance we had to travel and the speed of the setting sun.
Then on a hill we spotted him: Kalawari, a dominant male, grazing quietly in the tall grass. I was struck by the rhino’s massive frame and tiny bulging eyes.
We approached on foot until the trackers signalled we were not to go any closer: the delicate balance between tourism and conservation kicked in. The men were taking notes, observing the rhino’s mannerisms, checking he was healthy and strong. The moment they had finished, we had to withdraw.
Reluctantly, I crept away. The bull turned and lumbered through the grass, his horn silhouetted against the darkening sky.
That night, as we sat round the campfire, the staff laid on entertainment Namibian- style. The chef, her face barely visible under her floppy white hat, stamped her foot, forward then back, two or three times, an impromptu metronome.
They sang to wish me a safe homeward journey, and to warn me of the dangers of Amarula, the local liquor. One of them staggered around comically as I warmed a glass of the drink in my hands. I laughed loudly, because the song was funny and because while rhino conservation was great in theory, it was even better in practice.