A few years back, I was lucky enough to plan a wonderful booking at Phinda – 100 people stayed there for three days! Of course, I HAD to visit Phinda ahead of time and arrange things – that was my excuse and I was sticking to it!
I packed up Dave and a few friends as we were lucky enough to stay at one of the beautiful sole use villas, &Beyond Phinda Homestead. We woke early on the second morning thinking we were going for a game drive, but were we in for a huge surprise. Instead we were whisked off to join in the capture of three White Rhino that were being relocated to another reserve. There was much excitement as we arrived to see a helicopter, game capture teams and vehicles all assembled.
Then the adventure really began. The helicopter took off in search of the three Rhino that were close by. We watched as the vet darted the first one from the air. That was when the teams sprung into action. I held on tight as our vehicle crashed through the bush to reach the darted rhino. A damp cloth was placed over the rhino’s eyes to prevent them from drying out and to keep it calm while loading. The vet took blood and measurements while the capture team quickly put the blindfold and ropes in place to get the Rhino to its feet.
I had the privilege to touch the Rhino and watch the vet at work. I had always wanted to be a wildlife vet and I guess that this was about as close as I was going to get. At Grumeti I had made friends with the researchers from the Smithsonian institute that were doing an assignment on the wildebeest migration. They had a remote camp near to Grumeti and used to pop in for a visit if coming past camp. I used to give them a decent meal and a night at the lodge from time to time. I got to go out with them a few times to collar wildebeest, but nothing as exciting as Rhino!
Then the antidote was administered. Within minutes the team was urging the Rhino onto its feet. Dave was at one end of the rope along with a few other men pulling from the front and making sure that the Rhino was pulled forward. The team then guided the Rhino along….I guess guide may not be the right word. How do you ‘guide’ a 2 ton animal with a sore head? Anyway, with some prodding, pulling and much pushing, they finally got the first Rhino into the vehicle.
One down, two to go….
It was such an exciting morning and something that I will never forget! I can highly recommend this as an activity if you are ever at Phinda Private Game Reserve. Depending on the time of year and also if we need to do any research, guests can book and pay to join in research or relocation activities such as our Pangolin project, Rhino dehorning and a few of my guests have even joined in the collaring of two Elephant at Phinda!