White rhinos – the more docile of the two species found in Africa – rarely go on the offensive. But if they do it's best not to stick around. On a recent visit to South Africa's Greater Kruger National Park, a group of tourists experienced the unpredictability of wild animals firsthand when a seemingly calm rhino took a disliking to the safari vehicle they were in and chased it down a bumpy dirt road.

White rhinos are grazers and spend much of their time on open grasslands hoovering up their daily intake of nutrients. Which is exactly what the disgruntled pachyderm in the video appeared to be doing before its demeanour changed and it made a beeline for the vehicle. "We noticed that it suddenly stopped, lifted its head, and stared in our direction," Stasia Chapman told Latest Sightings who recently shared the footage on their Facebook page. "Our guide, who was driving the open-sided vehicle, sensed the threat and began driving."

It's unclear what triggered the charge, but the rhino quickly turned and began galumphing down the road in pursuit of the vehicle. "At first, we thought the rhino might just be curious, but then it started trotting towards us. We held our breath, hoping it would change its mind. It didn’t. The rhino accelerated to a gallop and headed straight for us."

To prove their reproductive worth, male rhinos often lay claim to territory, which they'll defend vehemently from rival bulls, but are not typically this aggressively defensive over their turf. Female territories usually overlap with those of dominant males, so when a rhino cow comes to visit, the bulls may ramp up their defensive tactics. It's possible that this particular rhino took exception to the loud vehicle and was simply seeing off the threat the only way a rhino knows how. Regardless of the motivation for the charge, though, there's a lesson to be learnt here: no matter how docile the animal may appear, always give these creatures their space.

As the rhino surged through muddy pools in the road, undeterred in its chase, Chapman and the other guests held on tightly to avoid tumbling out of the open game-viewing vehicle. "The chase lasted for several hundred metres, which felt like an eternity. We could see the rhino’s wrinkled skin in detail as if it was right beside us. We could also hear its heavy breathing and angry grunts," Chapman explained.

After a lengthy chase, the rhino gave up and backed off. "We all let out a sigh of relief and cheered. We also realised that this was not the guide’s fault, as he had followed the park rules and acted responsibly."

Header image: Teddy Llovet