A RHINO CRASHES

Rhino-0179I have been looking up the names of animal herds in preparation for a trip to Tanzania. Some of the names are weird (A murder of crows) and others are descriptive (A bloat of hippos). The photo on the right is of a Crash of Rhinos. I can vouch for the aptness of that herd name based on experience.

A few years ago my husband and I accompanied rhinoceros trackers in Namibia. According to the trackers, the rhino we were tracking always took a nap beginning at 10:00 a.m. and would be impossible to find if he was lying down in bushes. The nap story sounded to me like the sort of claim guides would make to impress gullible tourists.

After hours of bouncing over boulders in the back of a Land Rover, we met up with two trackers who had located the rhino. He was not black, as I had expected, but the greyish dusty color of the bushes he stood among. Even from a long distance, rhinos look preposterous, huge, and preposterously huge. An adult male black rhino can be as tall as 69 inches at the shoulder, 13 feet long, and more than 3,000 pounds. They are not friendly critters and can charge at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour, so trackers move silently and carefully.

It was 9:50 a.m. when we got to the site and the men were genuinely worried that we wouldn’t have time for photos. I decided to watch at a safe distance while my husband and a tracker moved closer very slowly and downwind of the rhino. At 9:55 they found a good angle. With his camera on silent mode, Bill was taking as many photos as he could. At 9:58 the big beast moved a little and I prepared to run for my life. Nothing happened. Then exactly at 10:00 a.m. and without any warning or sound, the rhinoceros just tipped over onto his side and all 2,000 + pounds of him crashed among the bushes. I will never doubt a guide again.

And lastly, a few more goofy herd names: a skulk of foxes; an implausibility of gnus; a wisdom of wombats and a dazzle of zebras.

 

 

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About Alexis

Alexis Rankin Popik, author of Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate, is an award-winning short story writer whose work has appeared in The Berkshire Review and Potpourri Magazine. She has penned numerous articles about local history that have been published in Connecticut Explored and the University of Connecticut School of Law and The Hartford Seminary publications. A former union organizer, Popik traveled the country educating shipyard workers about health and safety and founded a labor-management health plan before turning to writing fiction full-time. She lives with her husband in New England.
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