While I was in Nepal I spent some time volunteering at a farm near a National Park. This National Park was full of wild animals, such as hogs, alligators, tigers, and rhinos.
One day, the other volunteers and I got a day off to go explore the National Park – with guides of course. We had the option to tour it from a jeep or by riding an elephant (cruel!), but we wanted to explore the good ol’ fashioned way – on foot.
This seemed like a good idea at first, but five hours into bush whacking in 35°C heat we were second guessing our decision. We were hours into our trek and all that we kept seeing were deer. They were beautiful – but no longer worth the hours of sweaty walking through the long grass. I was about ready to throw in the towel and ask our main guide if we could head back when suddenly he told us all to freeze.
We immediately stopped, our eyes fixated on our lead guide – too terrified to look around. Our lead guide then pointed to a spot through the trees where we saw an elephant. Wait, that wasn’t an elephant.
It was a wild rhino!
I couldn’t believe how massive the animal was. I was frightened and my friends and I immediately began looking for nearby trees to climb up if the thing charged. Next thing I knew, the ground began to shake. We froze. Then we heard the rumble of the giant running.
After a moment of frozen fear, I shook off my alarm and realized that I was in fact still alive. The wild rhino had run off.
Once I knew I was safe, my excitement of just having seen a wild rhino set in. That wasn’t the end, though, because our crazy guides told us to continue following them as they headed into the same direction that the rhino ran off to. Now I was terrified.
Every crunch of a leaf made me jump. Did I mention we were on foot? I had just heard how fast and how powerful these animals were and I wasn’t in the mood to challenge one.
However, being left on my own wasn’t an option so I wearily followed the guides deeper into the jingle. Lions, and tigers, and rhinos – oh my! For safety there was one guide in the front, one in the middle and one at the back.
After about another twenty minutes of bush-whacking and tip-toeing through the jungle, we were once more told to freeze.
Our guide now looked scared himself. He told us all to stay back and that just one person at a time could come forward. My friends happily voluntold me the first to step forward. Right in front of my was not one rhino – but two! And now we were a lot closer. I could see the colour pattern in its tusks and the fine hairs on it’s hide. I was in awe of this powerful animal.
“RRRRRRING, RRRRRRING, RRRRRRING!!!!”
One of our guides phone started ringing! We all looked back – shocked. The guide quickly reached into his pocket and to my amazement – answered the damn thing!
He was trying to explain to the person on the phone that he couldn’t talk at that moment because he was in the jungle. Since he was whispering, the person on the other end couldn’t hear him and so he kept repeating himself – louder and louder!
Rhino’s are extremely sensitive to sound and so I was absolutely losing my mind. What phone call could be so important that it would be the worth risk of being killed by a charging wild rhino!? I couldn’t take it anymore and turned around and shushed my guide.
He wasn’t getting a tip.