Romancing the rhino at Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve

Posted by Colleen Blaine on 23 March 2012

I could think of no better way to spend this year’s day of love than with a couple of leathery rhinos and a good book. A friend of mine invited me to join him on a visit to the Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve. Armed with fuzzy rhinos suits and many copies of the children’s book Bongi’s Quest, I find James at reception. Situated in the Buffalo Hills about 12 km outside of Plettenberg Bay, this game reserve is the biggest in the Southern Cape. With generous open plains, edged in fynbos, spotting their generous population of animals is not difficult. Black impala, white springbok and golden gnus are impressive and photogenic, but the real reason I came was to see two peaceful giants.

Lying head to tail we find our Valentine’s Day dates. Crusty with mud, their deeply wrinkled skin gives away their long existence on this planet. These two perfect beauties look serene but sad as they soak up the soporific sun. Her chin rests heavily on the grass and the two stubs for horns remind me of a deep ache in my heart. It reminds me of our reality and their inestimable essence.

Dressed in rhino suits we fill the last spaces of the vehicle and our sporting ‘rhino ranger’ introduces herself. The amusement from the British tourists in our group is short-lived as James gives them the heartbreaking truth about rhino poaching in South Africa. The fact that they are completely oblivious hits me the hardest. We find the rhinos 10 minutes into our drive, they oblige and give us a perfect opportunity to appreciate them fairly close up. They look lazy and I switch off from the reel of information for a few minutes to gaze into their eyes. All I want to do is leap out the truck, run over to them and wrap my arms around that big rectangular face. I feel tears glistening and I lower my sunglasses, I am truly moved by the sight of two animals of which I have seen hundreds in my life. I realise it is because my mind is filled with images of death and loss. Here I see peace and serenity, but for how long?

Armed withBongi’s Quest’ books we hand out copies to the game reserve management and the kids on our drive with much discussion of how to get more to the school’s in the area.  The book, Bongi’s Quest’, was written by Chris Daniel and it forms part of a future series called ‘African Educational Stories’. The book was designed to educate and empower our country’s children. Read more about it here.

On writing this, the current statistics for 2012 are 116 rhinos poached, and this is not counting two unborn rhinos that were lost last week. That is one rhino every 14 hours. Staggering.

For more information you can contact any one of the many dedicated groups and individuals who are fighting this fight from every angle. You will find them on Twitter, Facebook or the links below:

Rhino Reality


Rhino Rescue Project

Saving Private Rhino


Plettenberg Game Reserve

Central Reservations for Accommodation

Contact Person Steve Lailvaux: Tel: 083-636-4600 email [email protected]

Reservations for activities:

Tel: 044-535-0000/1 Cell: 084-449-1275


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