Posted by: wildsidezambia | December 6, 2011

Talking the Rhino Walk


No matter how often you have been to the bush, no matter how you think you’ve seen it all, done it all and got all the t-shirts, you always learn something new. Such as interesting titbits on the inner workings of elephant and giraffe, the wanton behaviour of the Chacma baboon hussy’s and why the male lions leave the arduous jobs, such as hunting, to the girls.

We are on foot, on a walk to see the rhino in the Mosi O’Tunya National Park just outside Livingstone.

Zambia is one of the few countries where you can walk in most national parks. Bwaato Adventures of Livingstone, run by Tony Simpson, specialise in rhino and game walks. A tracking team goes out at dawn to confirm their whereabouts so guests are certain to see rhino. Extra excitement is added as rhino can be extremely dangerous, especially when they have a calf with them. On our walk we are lucky enough to see the oldest male in the Mosi O’Tunya National Park, with two females and a 12-month old female calf, securely nesting against a couple of tonnes of Mum during an early morning slumber.

As close as it gets...

With our professional guide Palate Chingazhi and armed game guards hovering over us we get to within a safe 20m of these huge bulks of beasts that can weigh up to 3000 kilos. They are not known as ‘megafauna’ for nothing! Seeing them so close with nothing but a few twigs between you and these animals is awesome. Hard to believe that their only enemy is us, the sometimes so loathsome humans. The seven remaining rhino in the Mosi O’Tunya National Park are carefully guarded against the scourge of highly organised syndicates after their keratin horn. Not since 2007 has the park lost any rhino to poachers.

Palata explains many things on the walk. We learn that elephants only digest 40% of their intake, whilst giraffe turn out neat little cone-shaped pellets as they digest almost all they eat. We also hear that the Chacma baboon ladies are of loose moral standings and sleep their way to the top, that is the top dominant male. Despite her many conquests the female will eventually fall pregnant by the most dominant male. Why, a Danish guest asks, do male lions rarely hunt and never seem to walk much faster than a gentle amble? “Ah”, says Palata, “that is because their (not inconsiderable) testicles get in the way”. Just an excuse, we say, to leave the hunting to the girls.

We also spend some time watching a busy colony of dung beetles, always fascinating. They buzz in like helicopters, choosing a spot near an already made ball of dung to make life easier. The owner of the ball of course objects strongly to this and a battle often ensues with the beetles locked in serious combat. Others busily push and drag their prize balls, falling off, climbing back on again, all seemingly against impossible deadlines judging by their frantic pace. One of them had fallen in an exhausted sleep on top of his ball.

After the walk we are taken to the banks of the Zambezi for cucumber sandwiches (serious!) and an ice-cold cool drink.

Tony Simpson originally trained as a diver in Australia, before falling in love with Zambia on his first visit in 1985.

Then a gentle drive back through the lush green riverine forest where we come across neatly kept graves, dating back to when the Old Drift settlement, the oldest European settlement in the present  Zambia before Livingstone was established following the advent of the railroad.

All in all a wonderful and interesting early morning, highly recommended.

For more info on costs and/or bookings please contact Wild Side Tours on or


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