By Francois van Heerden
Safari enthusiasts always crave that special sighting of a specific species to tick off their list. We had the priviladge of ticking many of these animals off the list in one single sighting!
On arrival at one of my favorite waterholes in Madikwe Game Reserve late one afternoon, we where fortunate enough to find rhino, elephant, lion and some general game all around the same waterhole.
While watching all the animals all go about their business drinking and mud bathing, I noticed one of the younger bull elephants, full of bravado, start approaching a female rhino with a calf.
Knowing elephants usually like to dominate a waterhole, I told the guests to watch and see if we might witness an interesting interaction.
As the elephant closed in on the rhino, she immediately turned on him and stood her ground with her calf right behind her! The elephant gave a charge toward her, but she stood her ground again. As soon as the bull stopped the charge, the rhino rushed back at him scraping her feet as she went forward, lifting dust to make the scene even more dramatic and intense!
Eventually, after eying each other for a while, the elephant thought it was best to move on and quickly retreated.
The stand-off lasted for probably less than 2 minutes but was quiet intense. Seeing these two giants of Africa standing toe-to-toe is hair-raising, but I feel that the mother rhino’s instinct and tenacity won the day, leaving us with the old saying in mind: “does size matter?”