What a Story, What an Experience! | WWF
What a Story, What an Experience!

Posted on 08 November 2017

My name is Renato and was born in South Angola, 1974 in the Menongue region, sadly left at a early age to never return, since then I've this feeling of missing home and for long time I've planned my return to the heart the savanna in Africa, this opportunity finally happened few days back with a planned safari to celebrate my 43th birthday and to do the big return to mother land.
On 03.11.2017 while I was doing a safari trip that have started in Tarangire National Park, passed thru Ngorongoro Conservation crater and destined to finish with two days on the Serengeti National Park with my daughter Laetitia and my wife Uliana On the second day in the Seringeti we discuss and decided to spend the last day in a different area of the National park, this area was lesser populated with animals, but with a better chance to see the black rino. So I request my guide in the morning to proceed and give it a chance to spot the black rino as it was a major dream and for me the best way to celebrate my birthday. After spending around 3 to 4 hours in the morning on the area we could possible spot the Black Rhinoceros, we became disappointed, has we start to realized that was not going to happen. With some sort of sadness we start heading to the central Seringeti to try see some action as my little girl were impatient to see animals, still looking back with the last hope to see something moving until the last sight of high bush.. we spend some time driving in the dry Morum area...and visit the Massai paintings, when passing to a zone with high green grass and some bush, my guide spotted male 3 buffalos on the margin of a shallow salty lake, in a elevated position, this 3 buffalos were looking to the margin few meters down, by following the direction of their attention my guide spotted a massive Black Rhinoceros, this around 12:30 pm We were around 700 meters (possibly more) from the Black Rhinoceros, standing on the other side of the lake, in order to not affright him, we stopped the car in the track near the opposite margin and started to enjoy the view, it was a dream come true and I could not believe it, nature was giving me a superb present After 5 minutes we spotted a Baby Black Rhinoceros walking around is mother and again we celebrate with joy , few more Jeeps (around 4 ) joint us and we stay there watching the little fellow moving around is baba, for around 15 minutes, then I spotted that the mama rhino still had the placenta stuck in her quarter backs, that was a sign that the baby was new born, my guide confirmed my thoughts. Born on the spot. After 30 minutes people were already calming down form the excitement and guides were chatting in between them, some people were having lunch or a snack, when I observe something strange to me, the Baby Black Rhinoceros that before was with a grey color turned quite black, this up to the neck, the animal were quite far and it was not always visible special because of the size of the little fella and the similar surrounding colors with grey and back shades. So I climb in to the top of the jeep to have a higher point of view, it was quite a challenge to keep track of the small guy. Few minutes more into it the Baby Black Rhinoceros just laid and stay for a long time without move, maybe 15 minutes without moving I started to believe that the baby could not survive do to some complications at birth as I've heard some of them don't survive the experience. So I comment with my guide that the little fella was in problems as he could not move and in my opinion he was already laid for quite a long time. My guide was sitting inside car without a good point of view. He took is binoculars and after some observation told me that the baby could be probably resting as he was a little still and needed to recover energy. I did consider it a plausible justification but I kept close observing, it was quite stressing for me as only the mamma was now visible and the little one was just a minuscule black spot not moving. I did however realize that something was wrong as the mother Black Rhinoceros became very agitated and I could see she was opening the month several times and moving in kind of semi circles back and front. Then the mother left and move to the bush disappearing from site, at that time I spoke with other 2 persons that were in the next jeep near me, we understood the baby was really in troubles and was probably dying, for natural reasons. We were quite sad to witness this special new life and then in a blink of the eye death was in our thoughts. Sudden I spotted a little head raising and making kind of efforts to stand up, I believe only me and the two French gentlemen were capable of seeing the small rhino since we were closing following the events since the beginning and if you were not attentive the baby was really a very small spot, mixed with the surrounding colors...all other persons and guides were not showing any signal of stress... Since mother was not visible there was nothing much to see, just that little spot so far from us. After couple of minutes me and the other 2 French persons cheered when we saw mother come back and returning to baby rino location. The efforts of the little rhino to stand were considerable despite not giving any result but still encouraging and made us believe that the baby was having the normal problems to stand as he was a new birth. However something was strange, after all the efforts of the baby to stand up, now I could only see the head of the baby Black Rhinoceros in a kind of vertical position ( pointing straight up to the sky) quite strange when they to not often raise the head so high, I also saw the mother become even more agitated and opening the mouth violently and moving back and front...when it occurred to me...why the change in color from all grey to black and the position of the head strangely raised up....the guy is sinking in the mud! So I told my guide: - Listen it seems to me that the baby rhino is really in serious troubles and I believe he's sinking in the mud up to the head. He might be dying, and the mother is very stressed...please look and tell me what your think, we need to do something. At same I also pass him my binoculars as his binoculars were old, even though my ones are relatively weak (10x36) however still better. He took some time to locate the baby but when it was done he also understood that the baby was in serious troubles, immediately he spoke with other guides and all started to speak in Swahili and become agitated. At this time they all understood that something needed to be done otherwise the baby didn't survive. When I saw my guide a minute later as we went to speak on other guides and we could not leave the car, I asked him if someone have called for help since we needed urgent specialized help, my guide told me that they had informed the rangers and help was on the way. It was very tense moments as the baby was less and less visible since we could not move. The rangers arrive in no time maybe, 5 to 10 minutes, it was quite impressive the rapidity and fast action they took, they immediately enter in the bush with their Jeeps to try to spot and safe the baby from the mud trap. Since we have moved closer but from the other margin of the lake we could not be sure on what was the exact location of the spot as it was in the land depression (margin), so the French friends tried to triangulate the location by checking the tree and bush positions on pictures they did took from where we were initially observing. Suddenly we observed the mother rhino emerge from the bush and charge against one of the jeep's that we're helping trying to locate the baby... then she charge against the 3 buffalos near by before running away...after all this exciting moments the 3 rangers finally jump from their Jeeps enter in the bush in the direction of the lake and in few minutes emerged from the bushed lake margins...one was carrying the Baby Black Rhinoceros. It was pure joy, pure pure joy. The baby was quite stressed and we could see that its face including nostrils were already covered with mud but looked very strong and healthy. He was calling for is mother. The rangers were nice with us and I believe to thank all our efforts allow us to come closer to the jeep and take some pictures for a few seconds, before leaving the zone in their jeep. I believe they went to try to locate the mother to give her back the baby I left site with a sensation of having saving the world or at least the world of someone so special as that baby . I was happy and very satisfied not only to have taken the day to spot this special animal but to stay alerted and monitor the situation with the baby for the all time even when having a visibility near zero....somehow I had a feeling that something's was not right from the beginning. I did not took out my eyes from him for the all time until they hurt by being pressed against the binoculars. The rangers in the end thanked us and that was very meaningful for me, together with the safari guides they should take all the credits for saving this special little baby, I could see how engaged they were and made me believe that with people committed like this there's a hope to the Black Rhinoceros. I also acknowledge that the perseverance and concentration we took while all happen was definitively important in the fate of this beautiful creature this and the guides attention to our concerns. That makes me feel part of the efforts and for that somehow special. Latter we saw some white jeeps going in the direction of the location all happen. Inside I believe some doctors. I pray that the baby rhino I named Ruby survives to see many happy years in the Serengeti
Rangers in the Serengeti after rescuing a baby black rhino
© Renato Costa