After following the spoor of this Black Rhino cow and calf, the two field rangers and I were first aware of her extremely close presence in the dense bush when a small flock of Red-Billed Oxpeckers gave their alarm call and took to flight.
We has been following the rhino spoor meandering through the bush for over two hours, finding where she had fed and rested, when the oxpeckers took to flight just a few meters in front of us. Stopping immediately, we noticed a slight flick of an ear right in the center of a Gwarrhi thicket. Backing off silently and fortunately with the wind in our favor, we moved around to one side where we could see the cow and her calf. The cow stood and watched us cautiously with her ears held erect and her calf, awakened by its mothers movements, also rose and then suckled for a good fifteen minutes before it lay down once again and continued to sleep. What an incredible experience it was to enjoy such a privileged sighting! With the cow and calf settling to rest, we moved away leaving them in peace and continuing with our patrol.
The rhino security patrols carried out by the dedicated conservation ranger teams, not only check for signs of poachers, but they also make regular check-ups on the rhino that they are entrusted to protect.
This project is carried out in partnership with the Game Rangers Association of Africa (GRAA) that provides support, networks and representation for game rangers across Africa. This conservation photography project will use rangers as the “lead characters” to highlight the issues faced by conservationists and showcase opportunities for improved support of rangers in the future. Positive and targeted messages will be communicated that emphasise the critical role that rangers play in African conservation in ensuring that the continent’s natural heritage is preserved for the benefit of future generations. Support Africa’s Rangers by supporting the GRAA.
Peter Chadwick is a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) whose mission is to further environmental and cultural conservation through photography. The iLCP’s goal is to use the art of high-quality photography to encourage people to take action in support of tangible and meaningful conservation measures.
Visit African Conservation Photography for a full gallery of Ranger images.