Half a black rhino

Another blogger, originalribenababy, commented that we were “Very very very lucky to see a rhino in Tanzania! Wow.” She’s traveled to Tanzania and just posted her Uganda gorilla tracking experience.  She’s right.  Finding a black rhino is difficult — there are only six in Ngorongoro Crater.  The Crater is large, and vehicles must stay on the roads.  Her comment brought to mind our search for the black rhino.

Shortly after breakfast in Ngorongoro Crater, our guide pulled to the side of the road, stood up to see out the roof hatch, and stared intently through his binoculars.

“There’s a black rhino!” he finally declared.


“See the zebra to the right of the trees?  Line up with the zebra; then look beyond the zebra.”

At first I couldn’t find the zebra, much less the rhino beyond it. With much help, I finally saw a dark object in the distance beyond the zebra.

“How do you know that’s a black rhino?”

“From the horn sticking up!”

We peered through our binoculars, looking for the horn. Some times we could see a horn, and other times not. I snapped some pictures. Our guide radioed the other two cars, and they came and looked. The nine people in the cars couldn’t spot the black rhino. To be fair, the zebra landmark had probably moved on.

Our guide asked “Did I show you a black rhino?”  There was pressure on him to show us a black rhino.

“Well, we might have seen a horn sticking up, but the other guides didn’t see it.  We’ll give you half a black rhino.”

Were we too hard on our guide, or too easy, on that day in Ngorongoro?

Here’s a photo of the black rhino, taken with a 400 mm lens on a Canon 40D, handheld on a warm, summer day. With the camera configuration, the lens has an effective length of 640 mm. A long telephoto lens, and this is all you get.

rhino in the distance?
black rhino?

See the black blob to the left of the two zebras?  With a horn sticking up on the right?  This is about what I saw through the camera viewfinder. Could we tell the folks at home “Oh yeah, we saw a black rhino.”  wink, wink.

The original photo has more resolution than the ‘black rhino?’ image.  ‘black rhino (cropped)’ is cropped from the original photo, showing the resolution of the original photo. Two zebras are easy to identify.  Is that a rhino next to them?

black rhino crop
black rhino (cropped)

But I didn’t review this photo at full resolution that day in the Crater.  The count remained at a half a black rhino.  The pressure was still on our guide to show us a black rhino.

In the late afternoon, as we were racing for the exit road to avoid a huge fine for overstaying our visit to the Crater, we saw a black rhino ambling along. Here’s the photo, again at 400 mm.

black rhino
standing black rhino

Looks like a rhino. The image below shows the higher resolution of the original photo. Now the rhino is more clear. Rhinos are kind of cute, in their own way!

standing black rhino (crop)
standing black rhino (crop)

We told our guide we’d count one black rhino. He smiled broadly. The pressure was off, until the next day on safari in Africa.


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I enjoy travel, art, food, photography, nature, California native plants, history, and yoga. I am a retired software engineer. The gravatar is a Nuttall's woodpecker that visited our backyard.

3 thoughts on “Half a black rhino”

  1. Thanks for the mention 😉

    I’d class that as two rhinos! Your guide must have been a brilliant spotter!

    I remember my colleague giving our driver/guide a hard time in Tanzania to spot her a leopard. It was only as we were going to yet another site inspection at the end of the day up on the crater rim that she got her wish.

    I have total safari envy now!! Miss Africa so much!


    1. You’re right about our guide being a brilliant spotter. But I didn’t figure this out yet, on the second day of my first safari.

      Perhaps we were too tough on our guide about the number of rhinos. The morning rhino and afternoon rhino were in about the same area, by the trees leading to the exit road. So it might have been the same rhino.


      1. If we were going on number of animals rather than number of sightings I would be on my ten thousandth zebra by now – but have only witnessed them in maybe 15 sightings.

        2 sightings of a rhino aint half bad 😉

        They actually have ‘score cards’ in some South African safari lodges which I always thought was crazy – even if you have a ‘bad’ day it’s never really that bad being out on safari! Why make people feel like they have lost out because they got a slightly ‘lower score’ than another vehicle?!


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