Black rhinos are notoriously bad-tempered. With poor eyesight and a general distrust for anything that moves, it doesn't take very much to trigger these horned behemoths into charging. Sometimes, just the flutter of a falling camera strap can be enough ...

While conducting animal surveys on South Africa's Manyoni Private Game Reserve, wildlife monitor Sam Vorster and her group of volunteers happened upon a battle-scarred black rhino looking extra formidable in the fading afternoon light. It was an individual that Vorster recognised and had great admiration for. Concerned that the rhino looked a little worse for wear, she decided to stick around for a closer inspection to ensure that he was not ill or injured. 

"When you see the same animal frequently you get to know their behaviour. His was generally quite passive, although true to his species, he would sometimes mock charge us," Vorster explained to Latest Sightings. Just as the rhino approached for a closer inspection, one of the volunteers sitting in the rear of the vehicle accidentally dropped a camera strap. It was enough to trigger the already uneasy rhino and it thrust its body forward "kissing" the left fender of the vehicle and sending Vorster into immediate evasive action. 

"As soon as the rhino hit the car, I dropped my phone and drove away before he came back for real,"  she explained. "He only left muddy lip prints on the vehicle, but his unspoken words were clear."

Black rhinos (Diceros bicornis) are known to have more aggressive temperaments than their square-lipped cousins, and considering they can charge at up to 35mph (56kmph), and tip the scales at 1700-3,000 pounds (800-1,350kg), you don't want to be in the way when they lose their cool. Fortunately, this individual was simply seeing off a threat and thankfully did not launch a full-blown attack. "I have watched a truck being lifted by an angry black rhino before, it was obvious this 'light tap' was a warning, not the real deal," says Vorster.

Sadly, this foul-tempered car-charger later entered into a challenge with a rival rhino that proved to be his undoing. He succumbed to his injuries sustained in the fight. Vorster takes solace in "knowing that he lived a long fruitful life and died of natural causes."

Top header image: cuatrock77, Flickr