Wild rhinos have every reason to distrust humans, but this 500-pound female approached a cameraman for the most adorable reason — she wanted belly rubs!
Garth de Bruno Austin has been filming South African rhinos for several years. He hopes to raise awareness about the violence and poaching that has led to their critically endangered status, but as a bonus, he’s also developed a deep bond with many of the animals. Although he will not reveal the exact location of the rhino in this footage, she is safer than most — she’s been dehorned and is guarded 24/7 by armed security.
Sadly, attacks against rhinos are at an all-time high. In February, poachers stormed a rhino orphanage in South Africa, shooting two juveniles and removing their horns. Just last week, a rhino from a safari park in France was found dead. His horn had been removed with a chainsaw and he’d been shot three times in the head.
This one-of-a-kind footage is a reminder of just how incredible rhinos really are. She’s a huge, wild animal, but she’s behaving exactly like a little lap dog!
As awesome as the footage is, you should NEVER approach a wild rhino or try to pet one. As Austin said:
“Do not try and do this with a truly wild rhino as it may end up with you being killed. I did not approach this animal, it was completely her desire to let me come into her personal space and touch her. Once she had enough, she walked away and continued grazing.”