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Trip Report Phinda, where the h is silent but the rhino flatulence is not--Trip Report

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June 28-July 4, out July 5 for a 1-week stay

Photos: 1-51 What’s out there; 52, 53 Forest Lodge Cottage
You may notice many of the photos are labeled to show what I saw right at Forest Lodge, where animals roam freely in the sand forest and savanna.

Guide: Thulani was recommended by Divewop and will also be highly recommended by me in the future.

TA: Eyes on Africa

Let me get right to the flatulence. It was my third rhino tracking excursion and I was joined by a delightful mother and teenage son from Costa Rica and by Seth, a CC Africa employee who was very enthused to be out of the office and on the trail of white rhino. Ranger Thulani and Tracker SK would lead us on our walk into the broadleaf forest habitat in search of rhino and anything else we might encounter.

We had come upon a midden of rhino dung and the top layer was noticeably warm and visibly steaming in the cold morning air. That meant the rhino was close. It was so close that as we examined this prize that was emitting not only steam, but an unpleasant odor, Thulani motioned for us to remain silent and motionless. He had heard the whine of a baby rhino. From his vantage point in front of us he could also make out the shape of the mother and she had stopped feeding. That was not a good sign. Had she detected us? Then we heard another sound—a loud explosive grunt. Was the mother rhino signaling her intention to charge? Should we find a tree? None of these questions could be voiced nor could we start scouting out trees because we had to remain completely still and quiet, huddled over the steaming, pungent rhino dung.

Moments passed, then Thulani explained in a low whisper about that menacing grunt. It was only the female rhino passing gas as she heeded the wishes of her whining calf and laid down so the calf could stop and nap. The pair had not detected us and now they were resting peacefully. We were led, one by one, from the midden to a spot just a meter or two away where we could glimpse the female rhino’s resting body as she shielded her calf. After we each had gotten a view, we quietly walked off. The rhinos were none the wiser, as it should be.

And that was only one of three exciting morning rhino tracking activities that I did at Phinda.

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