Rhinos are one of the most interesting mammals in Uganda, became extinct in the country during the Idi Amin’s brutal regime but were later re-introduced back and are now only found within the renowned Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. Therefore, you can track them on foot as you learn about their interesting behavior and environment during your safari in Uganda. This allows you to have an up-close encounter with these giant mammals
Rhinos are believed to be aggressive (which is not true) but will attack if they feel threatened and surprisingly, don’t run when they approach because you can never run faster than them (can run at a speed of 45 kilometers per hour). The Sanctuary is a home to about 22 southern white Rhinos that roam through 70 square meters of private land separated from the surrounding bush with a 2-meter electric fence. The southern white Rhinos are the most widespread species of rhinos yet were almost extinct in the 20th Century with about 20 of them living in a South African Reserve.
While tracking the Rhinos, a number of signals can be used to spot them including their droppings, which is a first trace of nearby Rhinos. These wonderful creatures make an instant good impression as they use the same spot as their toilet. You will also see out fresh footprints and bushes where they would have hidden from direct sunlight. Off you will maneuver through scrublands as you find more tracks but this doesn’t take long because in most cases the rangers know exactly where the Rhinos are because they have around-the clock guards within the site.
When you finally sight them or are approaching them, slow down and avoid making noise because it scares them. For your own safety and proper viewing, always follow the tracking rules and regulations given by the rangers at all times. Much as they are not aggressive, they are wild animals (just like mountain gorillas, elephants, lions, leopards, buffaloes, giraffes and cheetahs) and much as the Sanctuary is their breeding area, they are kept like any other wild animals thus be careful when you are around them. However, they don’t just harm humans but you will find them swinging their heads back and forth upon the grass not minding about the presence of tourists. They will see eating (these Rhinos eat up to 150 kilograms of grass each day) thus the reason they always spend most of their walking time eating and no time for sleeping.
You have to watch them from some meters away but the feeling of seeing these wrinkled-skinned giants feels like a dream and completely different from the ones you will encounter in Tanzania or Kenya because with the ones of Uganda, you will see them up-close than with the other countries where you may observe them from the comforts of your vehicle. When sighted, endless photos have to be taken, most of the times against the sun and from too far distances.
The Rangers wait patiently for you to observe the Rhinos with the guide explaining and answering all the necessary questions before finally leaving. Always remember to keep a distance of about 10 meters from them and avoid making noise or unnecessary movements when watching them.
What to carry or wear during Rhino tracking
You will need to wear long sleeved shirt because you will be moving through some areas without track, long trousers, strong hiking boots, carry a backpack, a camera, pair of binoculars, enough drinking water because sometimes you are not sure of how long the walk will last, snacks, a hat with a wide brim because of the scotching sun you may experience during the day, sunglasses and also don’t forget to carry insect repellant.