Magazine article Geographical

That Moment: The Winner of the Wildlife Category Is Eric Baldauf of London

Magazine article Geographical

That Moment: The Winner of the Wildlife Category Is Eric Baldauf of London

Article excerpt

Have you ever seen two rhinos having sex? It's painfully slow and soporific. It can take hours. And hours. And hours. It's the opposite of the wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am procreation style of monkeys. I suppose that's what got me into such a predicament. I must have been hypnotised by the methodical methods involved.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The seduction began the previous evening around a waterhole in Chitwan National Park in the southern lowlands of Nepal. An armed park warden had escorted me through a vast deciduous forest to the bamboo viewing platform where I was to spend the night. His last words of warning were: 'No matter what, don't come down from the platform until I return tomorrow.'

I spotted the huge, single-horned male approaching before dusk, trotting towards the waterhole with surprising grace. But stranger than that, stranger than anything I've ever seen, I swear he had a smile on his face. He might as well have had a tuxedo on--he seemed so self-assured, so suave, so debonair. He sauntered up to his prey, a lone female half his size. He gave a gentle grunt, a nudge and then moved away. This was to be a proper courtship. He understood the rules of engagement and his objective was clear.

The female didn't bat a hairy eyelid. She showed him a massive cold shoulder. Her body language said: 'Where are the chocolates and flowers, big boy?' He tried to circle around behind her but she wasn't having any of it. And so began a seductive dance that lasted through the night, two huge silhouettes lumbering in the moonlight. The noises from the male were as varied as those of a poet: cajoling, teasing, demanding ... whispered, mooed and barked.

By first light, he had worn down the female's resistance and managed to mount her. But she still wasn't having it and told him so with a series of thunderous roars. …

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