When a cinematographer named Garth De Bruno Austin was filming wildlife in South Africa with his girlfriend, Morgan Pelt, he got a strange request: from a wild rhino. The rhino wanted a tummy rub and felt he could surely get one from Austin. This rhino happened to be friendly, but only because she was familiar with Austin, who said that he’s been filming this particular giant beast for several years. Austin says he has built up some trust with the big girl and highly recommends that no one try this on their own with a random rhino. It could be dangerous.
In fact, he gives a strong warning, saying that you’ll probably end up dead if you give it a go. When the rhino approached Austin, he was happy to comply and give the big beast a yummy tummy rub. As Austin understood it, it wasn’t a request, but rather a demand when it comes from such a large animal. He points out that he didn’t approach the rhino, but that it was her decision to invite him into her personal space and allow him to touch her. At one time, rhinos roamed several places throughout Asia, Europe, and Africa, and we know that because early Europeans depicted the big animals in paintings in caves.
Even at the start of the 20th century, more than 500,000 rhinos roamed Asia and Africa, but by 1970, the numbers started dropping as low as 70,000. As of 2021, there are only about 27,000 rhinos in the wild. They don’t survive outside of reserves and national parks because of the habitat loss and persistent poaching that has gone on over the last several decades. Three species of this majestic animal are critically endangered. In Africa, southern white rhinos now thrive because they’re in protected sanctuaries and are near threatened. At one time, they were thought to be extinct.
Watch the video below. It’s hard to imagine that there may be a time that these beautiful animals don’t wander the earth.