There are those moments in life that will stay forever etched in your memory. This moment is one of them.
Far, far away in South Africa there is a private game reserve that allows you to spend the night in an underground bunker out in the middle of the bush. This is real wild life viewing since there are no humans or dwellings for miles. In photography land, it is called a “hide”, designed so you can capture authentic moments where the animals supposedly don’t see you. (trust me they can hear and smell you!)
As I sat excitedly on my stool with my camera mounted on a tripod, behind a glass wall connected to a small watering hole about 5 meters wide, I did not know what was in store for me that night. Just as the sun was dropping and the moon was rising, a female Rhino and her calf walked up to take a drink.
I had a woo-woo moment where my eyes rolled back up in my head…holy cow…I was sitting eye level with a huge, beautiful and completely intact Rhino horn! It was glorious…the harps started playing and I was transported into the cosmos…the land of animal engineers who created such a sacred appendage on such an awesome animal….. and then I fell back into my body.
Right in front of me was the golden treasure that certain cultures pursue with such violence so they can experience physical pleasure. REALLY? I’ve got SO much to say about this but that is another blog post for another time.
Even though we were in a “hide” the Rhinos knew we were there. They could smell us and hear us. We sat in our little cave taking photos of these exquisite animals and that is when I fell in love. I have now been forever implicated in having to do something to completely end Rhino horn poaching.
The irony is that same night, as we were in our bunker, a few miles away on the same property, a baby Rhino was shot in the leg in an attempt to get the mother to come out of the bush. Poachers had made their way onto the land and would do almost anything to get the horn that would fetch them $25,000!~
Thankfully, the poachers were captured and removed. The baby was going to be fine although he wouldn’t be walking for a few days. Something else pretty intense happened that day…the owner of the farm decided he was going to safely de-horn all 40+ of his Rhinos so that poachers would not come on his land again.
That is when I knew I had a mystical encounter with a Rhino horn because that was the last photo taken of this female Rhino with her horn. In my heart I will find a way to help these animals because I cannot not do something.
Here is to all of the wild, sacred beauty,