In February this year, an amazing video of a black rhino charging and headbutting a vehicle in our very own Etosha National Park quickly went viral. With the video still doing the rounds on various platforms, we thought it might be a good time to post a few tips on how to minimize the chances of this kind of thing happening to you.

In the case of rhinos, you’ll probably only ever have to worry about black rhinos. It’s highly unlikely that a white rhino would ever charge like this. Black rhino are known to be much more aggressive and erratic in their behaviour, as you might remember from a previous post on this blog about a black rhino wreaking havoc in a small village on the fringes of Etosha.

How to tell the difference between a black and white rhino? Black rhino are smaller and have smaller hook-shaped lips. You’re also more likely to find black rhinos in and around dense thorny bushes and trees, while white rhinos are more likely to be spotted out in the open.

Both species of rhino have very poor eyesight, and this might explain the black rhino’s propensity to charge when it feels threatened by something that it can’t see properly.

So the first step to avoiding a confrontation with a black rhino is knowing that you are dealing with one, and having some sense of its unpredictable nature. Never get too close, and always be ready to make a quick evasive manoeuvre, especially if it’s looking and moving in your direction with its head up, as in the video.

Much of this advice applies to dealing with any large and potentially dangerous mammal in Etosha, or in any national park. It’s very useful to have a basic understanding of an animals’ body language, and be observant in this regard — much of it is common sense. If you’re paying attention, it shouldn’t be hard to see that an animal isn’t particularly happy about your presence.

Take a look at the video below, which was filmed in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, as an example. Is it not clear that the elephant is not in the best of moods well before it charges the vehicle? Many would consider this an example of terrible guiding.

Other tips always worth reiterating are: don’t make any loud noises or sudden movements, stay on the roads, stick to speed limits or even slower, always give animals right of way and always stay seated in your vehicles — no standing up and no leaning out of windows, especially around predators.

You’ve probably heard this all before, but videos like those above show it’s always worth putting out a friendly reminder. Wild animals are, well, wild. They should be treated and admired as such. Always.