This year, Zimbabwe ranger Charles Chinobva faced and survived one of the many dangers that come with being a ranger – a close encounter with a Black Rhino which left him with a severely punctured lung.
Charles Chinobva and Junior Pfumgwa were on a mission to photograph a black rhino mother and her calf. Once spotted, Charles pointed the camera in their direction. “As I focused I saw the rhino,” Charles explained. “It had emerged from the bush, so I prepared to take the photograph.
I was not able to do so because the camera seemed to be zooming in on the rhino and I wanted to take a photograph of the whole rhino. I thought perhaps I had mistakenly activated the zoom, so I lowered the camera to check.
“I immediately realised that I was not mistaken. I had not zoomed in on the rhino. It was charging us. And this rhino was not the mother rhino we were looking for. We were being charged by a male black rhino.” Black rhinos are very aggressive, and will charge at anything perceived to be a threat.
“I dropped the camera and we ran towards a tree,” but Charles stumbled and fell. “I tried to get up, and I he was less than ten metres away from me. So I lay down and tried to roll away from him.” The black rhino identified as Pikinini then hit him.
Junior fired a shot into the air, sending Pikinini running back into the bush.
“Junior had to ask me three times if I was okay, because I could not answer,” said Charles. “I stood up and saw that my overall and my t-shirt were both torn.” Charles was taken to Emmanuel’s Hospital in Chiredzi, where they decided he needed an x-ray which required him to be transferred.
Charles was driven to Triangle Hospital, where it was revealed that Pikinini’s charge had broken eight of his ribs and Charles’ scapula. He had to be put on a pleural drain because his punctured lung had collapsed. The following morning Ace Evacuation’s air ambulance flew Charles from Buffalo Range to Charles Prince.
The ability to fly Charles and get him the advanced care he needed was made possible by his Ranger Protect insurance cover.
Charles is since in recovery and, despite his injuries, only thought was for the rhinos he protects: “I’m looking forward to the day when I am fully recovered and I can get back to my rhinos. What happened to me was part of my job. It was just an accident.”
July is #WorldRangerMonth and for less than R2 per day you can ensure the wellbeing of Africa’s rangers and their families is improved through the provision of adequate insurance cover in the event of injury or death. For R431, a ranger gets 24/7 death and disability cover for an entire year.
By Sarah Todd, Footprints Zimbabwe
Images: Savé Valley Conservancy