Rhino Kruger

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Walk On The Wild Side

Behind the scenes in South Africa

A recent trip to South Africa found Ben, our Africa expert, tracking rhino on foot and finding a much wilder side to safari than he could ever expect.

Walking safaris are a chance to get up close to nature and take stock of the big and little details. Also, on a walking safari, you never know exactly what might happen. On this particular walking safari in South Africa, our Head of Africa Ben Oxley-Brown found rhino tracks and followed them to find the animal injured after a serious altercation with an elephant.

"This really shows the power and force of animals when they clash in the wild. It was an eye-opening experience."

Ben Oxley-Brown

Personal Travel Designer

01488 689700 Read Ben’s profile
Ben Oxley-Brown
A White Rhinoceros footprint in red sand

More than a bush walk

At dawn we set out on a walk from our lodge and quickly fell into step behind our tracker and guide, through classic Kruger bush veld and then along a narrow sand river. We would pause to notice where elephant prints crossed the sand until we picked up the unmistakable imprints in the sand of a bull rhino. Rhino tracks resemble huge three leaf clover stamps in the soft sand and initially tracking was easy as we followed the male deeper into the bush.

At a bend in the river bed, the mood changed very quickly. Sand had been kicked in every direction and it appeared as if there had been an almighty scuffle with drag marks and tracks right across the river bed.

As we scanned the floor trying to unravel what may have passed before us we started to find a large quantity of blood in the dust and several presumptions raced through our minds. Had the rhino been shot? Was it still alive? Was it close, injured and about to charge at us?

South African Rhino
Rhino, South Africa

Rescue mission

"This walking safari really highlighted the skill of our tracker. Without him, we wouldn't have even found, let alone been able to help this injured rhino."

With the help of our incredible tracker who really was the living embodiment of a bloodhound, we moved through the bush, following broken grasses and the occasional tell tale blood spoor. In rocky areas the tracking became harder and the tracker had to cast himself in an arc to regain the line and then we were off again, picking up pace through the more open country and slowing warily where the vegetation became more dense.

Eventually we saw the boulder-like back of the rhino just ahead of us in the long grass and could hear his ragged breathing. We took a GPS marker and returned to the truck so we could make the final approach without getting trampled to death. From the relative security of the Land Cruiser we could get within twenty feet of the enormous bull and see a huge tear in the beast’s flank. Ox peckers clustered around the rent in his side. We called in the vets and they got to work, first tranquillising the rhino and then stitching his thick flesh back together.

Walking Royal Malewane


The consensus was that we had just missed a battle between the rhino and a large bull elephant, a proper clash of the titans and not something you would be likely to see anywhere in Africa. The elephant’s tusk had caught the rhino just aft of his front leg and had torn up toward the shoulder. The force required would have lifted the rhino and it was a miracle it hadn’t killed him outright.

Thankfully, he was back on his feet a few hours later due to the excellent care by the vets. One of the more extreme walks on the wild side.


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