We had a spectacular month exploring East Africa – a real dream come true and centerpiece of our trip. It was awe-inspiring to see first hand in the wild what we had only seen in zoos. Handpicking the best of the best of the thousands of photos we took, the On Safari in East Africa series showcases the animals we were privileged to see in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.
Amazingly, we were less than 20 feet away from the largest, meanest looking animal ever – a rhinoceros and her cub. Since we had trekked out into a swamp from our campsite, and since rhinos can run much faster than people, we were very thankful to have the rangers with us. Here at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, we got to see not only a mother and baby, but a group of 4 other rhinos as well. The sanctuary is the only place to see wild rhinos in Uganda due to poaching, prolonged human conflict and other issues.
Rhinos are the second largest land animal behind elephants. An adult white rhino can weight more than 7,000 pounds. We were surprised by the giant footprints we saw on our trek.
Birds, like the oxpecker, are often found on rhinos. Not only do they eat the ticks which feed off the rhino, but they also may alert the rhino to nearby predators. The birds help to make up for the rhino's poor eyesight.
Despite their thick armor-like skin, rhinos are prone to sunburn. They often wallow in mud or dirt to protect themselves from the sun.