Johann Oelofse, section ranger at Mooiplaas, observed an unusual occurrence. He relates the story:
At Bowkerskop windpump I came across a most unusual spectacle. First thinking I was witnessing the mating of a pair of white hino, with the cow actually lying down amongst the dense sedges of the vlei, I soon realised that the hump-back, all that as visible from the animal lying down neatly on its brisket, was that of a hippo!
The amorous rhino bull was none other than Ore’, the stumpy-eared white rhino bull that spent a number of years in the Skukuza game capture bomas, before being released some months ago in the Nshawu Vlei. (see addendum)
Although no more than 30m from the road, it was at first impossible to see whether the hippo was dead or in a state of total intimidation while this rhino bull clambered all over it, desperately trying to mate with it. I assumed that the hippo had to be dead, a fact which became clear as the rhino gradually trampled down the surrounding stand of dense sedges until the entire scenario lay fully exposed.
The cause of the hippo’s death could however still not be determined from where we were observing this strange behaviour. The rhino’s frantic efforts at sexual release lasted all day long and kept the occupants of dozens of vehicles spellbound until they had to reluctantly leave the scene to return to the rest camp before gate closing time.
I went out again at 16h00 and patrolled along all the busier routes to show the presence again. Once again there were no speeding vehicles and generally just families and friends quietly enjoying themselves. I wound up returning to the macabre scene of the rhino and his dead hippo as the last vehicles departed and had not long to wait before the rhino wandered off approx 80m from the carcass of the hippo.
Seizing this opportunity I quickly snuck up to the carcass and with one eye on the rhino, quickly surveyed the carcass for any wounds that might indicate that the rhino had gored the hippo in any way.
There were no wounds and no blood in evidence, but I did manage to observe that judging by the dung around the carcass, the hippo must have been lying up in the cover of the sedges for at least three days before having died of apparent natural causes. The rhino started drifting back towards his newfound passion and I made myself scarce back to my vehicle. There is no way a man wants himself trapped by an over-amorous, over-stimulated rhino bull, now is there?
Addendum: The rhino, ‘Ore’, which is the Afrikaans translation for ‘ears’ was held in the Skukuza bomas since the late 90s where he was part of a project. He was released in the Mopani area in February 2006. He was named Ore due to one of his deformed ears.