Another chilly autumn morning and we set out on drive. After having so many amazing sightings of lions, leopards mating and elephants passing right by the car, I decided that we would take it easy and head down to the Sabi River for some coffee and explore some of the smaller things that nature had to offer.
After a great coffee to warm us up after our cold start to the day we slowly made our way back to the lodge. As I got closer to the lodge one of the rangers called in that he had some rhino mating about 5 minutes from the lodge. I didn’t even hesitate and went straight out to where we found 5 rhinos all on an open area. Everything looked pretty tame at that stage as the female was suckling her calf and the rest of the males were grazing but this changed very quickly as the two males started to have a standoff as they tried to figure out who had dominance and who was going to get the opportunity to mate.
The males stormed each other pulling out just before contact. The snorting, huffing and puffing carried on for a while until one of the males eventually ushered the other away from his prize. If he thought he had won the battle he was wrong because the female was now rejecting his advances. He patiently waited for her to calm again and they fed all around our vehicles as we too waited patiently for the inevitable.
We watched and waited giving them space to do what they needed to do. Eventually our patience was rewarded as the male came up from behind the female making some very strange noises to let her know what his intentions were. He then rested his head on her back before lifting his 2 ton bulk up and placing himself on her back. This was very clearly the beginning of this ritual as it can take a few days for the male to figure out what he is meant to do and at no stage did it look like he was going to penetrate. The other male that had lost looked for a moment as if he wanted to attempt an attack now while the other male was in this precarious position but then thought better of it.
He remained on top of her for about 10 minutes before dismounting and carrying on. It will be great to see how long the courtship will last as this male has already been following her for 2 weeks trying to get a chance but in order to ensure that she is getting the best, she rejects him until she is happy that he is the strongest and fittest male to be the father of her calf. What an incredible sighting and love seems to be in the air around Sabi Sabi with all the mating we have seen over the past few days.