NAIROBI PARK DIARY

The crossing

Next time you visit the park, go will the attitude of expecting the unexpected

In Summary

• Rhinos thought to be thirsty simply walk into the dam and cross over to the other side

White rhino athi dam
White rhino athi dam
Image: GARETH JONES

Every time we drive into the park, there is an excitement in knowing that every day is different, and that we might witness something unusual.

Recently on a relatively cool morning, we arrived in the Athi basin and drove to the dam. On the far end, we saw a group of five white rhino approaching the waters' edge.

We assumed they were going the drink, but to our surprise, they didn’t. When they arrived at the water, they stood for a few moments before simply walking into the deep water and crossing over onto the other side of the dam.

Wow! What a rare sighting! It was also interesting that it they seemed to be on a mission to go to a location for better grazing grasses. As they emerged from the water, the wet bottom part of their bodies gave a two-tone colour effect that I called “two ton-two tone”.

It should be noted that white rhino were relatively recently introduced into the park in October 2009, when 10 rhino were translocated from the Nakuru National Park. The current population continues to grow.

White rhino are different to black rhino in many ways. Firstly, they are much heavier and relatively placid compared to the aggressive black rhino.

And they have square mouths designed to graze grasses, while the black rhino has a cleft hooked lip designed to eat twigs and leaves. The names black and white rhino have nothing to do with their colours, they are both dark grey.

It started when Dutch settlers remarked on their “wyd” or wide mouths. Someone translated that as “white”, so they were named white rhino. Then another different species was found, so they just called it the opposite of white, namely black.

 

Next time you visit the park, go will the attitude of expecting the unexpected.

For park information link to the following website  www.kws.go.ke