We drive for a weekend to the Omaruru Game Lodge. We arrive for lunch at eating it sit under the taxidermied head of a rhino. His one glass eye doesn’t stop glaring at me and I do not really get to enjoy my meal very much. “This rhino lived here in our park,” explains our waiter,” but one day the other two killed it. We never understood why.”
When the sun sets all animals in the park of the lodge come to a small wall right outside the restaurant where they receive their food. The two killer – rhinos arrive too. I am standing right on the other side of the wall and one of the rhinos is on the other. Never have I been that close to a rhino! My heart starts beating wildly. I push the thought that this rhino killed the one whose head hangs on one of the restaurant walls once and again away. But it keeps reappearing.
During the afternoon we spent two hours on a jeep which drove us through the park a. A 12 year old boy from Frankfurt shared the tour with us and we have made a little friendship going. He is for the 4th times in his life in Omaruru, because his German grandmother lives here. I just saw her drinking some cocktails at the bar and she has disappeared from my sight.
Her grandson does not care, he stand right beside me, enthusiastically he invites me,” Come here, touch the rhino!” He is already doing it. The rhino does not seem to be impressed by this at all. It eats and eats the hay which it has been given for dinner. Nothing else seems of importance. If this boy has the guts to touch that rhino, how can I deny the invitation? I first put my hand lightly on the back of the huge animal. It feels as harsh and hard as the wall of a house under my hand. Impossible to feel that behind this thick skin a heart beats away its time. I would have never ever thought that once in my life I would get so far as to touch a living rhino!
“Now touch its horn!” orders my little German friend. I obey. The horn is huge and hard, but smoothe and pleasant.
Again the boy is ahead of me,” Now touch its mouth!” The boy’s small hand already lies on the moving mouth. My heart jumps, but I do put my hand very softly beside the boys`- and feel as if I was the heroine in some novel… I imagine that if the animal gets irritated I can fly my hand back in a particle of a second, or so it seems to me. But the rhino is not disturbed at all by two human hands resting on its hard working mouth. I let my hand rest heavier on it. The moving rhino feels pleasantly warm, soft and wet under my fingers. Now I can perceive a beating heart inside the creature.
My little friend smiles at me,” Great, no?
“Yes”, I agree,” absolutely great ands wonderful!”
But for dinner I chose a different table in the restaurant, where just the glass eye of a dead gazelle stares at me.
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Photography by Kiki