The viewing site at Etosha’s Halali camp is built into a rocky crag, with the cliff at your back and the Moringa waterhole below. You look down upon an arena, or theatre, with the evening sun in your eyes, until the light begins to fade and the orange glow of the floodlights comes on.
Trundling down the path to our left, out of the bushes, or wings if you like, came the first of our first evening’s protagonists – a large black rhinoceros. He proceeded straight to the pool, dipped his head to drink, and took a few steps into the water. Stepped out again, circled, entered again stage right, this time up to his belly. What a treat, we thought – to the whirring of shutters as the small group of us baking on the exposed rock fired away with our cameras.
And then, out of the bushes, centre, emerged a second black rhino. Marched down to the water, put in a foot, waded forward – only to be challenged by rhino number one, bellowing. And for the next two hours we watched, amazed, as the titans clashed, snorting and farting, eyeing each other with menaces, facing each other down, hurling themselves forward. Somewhere in the midst of all this, a third rhino appeared, and tried to muscle in on the party, only to be driven away empty-handed, and a couple of jackals emerged to drink, unmindful of the war going on, before disappearing again into the darkness.
It was mesmerizing, exhausting – quite the experience. Nothing like anything either of us had seen before, ever. When finally we left the waterhole, overwhelmed, sated, they were still at it.
I’ve turned some of the floodlit shots into black and white – I’d be interested to know what you think of the series.