"I was so moved," Uma Thurman said of her close encounter with a mother rhinoceros during the rescue mission
Credit: Alexei Hay

Uma Thurman is officially in awe.

The actress, 45, traveled to Africa earlier this year to take part in a dangerous yet humbling mission to save a mother white rhinoceros and her calf who, along with their dwindling species, are under significant threat from poachers.

“It’s a spiritual, surreal experience, to have subdued, without stress, such a prehistoric animal,” she told Town & Country magazine for its October cover story, out next Tuesday. “To hear its deep breaths, to smell it, to touch its skin – even a rhino has soft bits. To see how delicate they really are, how vulnerable. There is the obvious excitement of it all, but also a quietness in the midst of all the panic.”

The Slap

star took part in the mission after learning about the grave threat to the prehistoric animals, who face possible extinction in 10 years. The creatures are coveted for their horns, which some believe have powers to cure cancer and enhance virility. According to the magazine, the horns are also at times ground into a powder to use as a party drug. The magazine reports that an intact horn can be sold for between $750,000 and $1 million.

Teaming with experts from Wilderness Safaris and Town & Country Executive Travel Editor Klara Glowczewska, Thurman helped the mother and calf safely travel from South Africa’s Timbavati Game Reserve to Botswana, where there is a lesser threat of poaching.

Because the animals are so valued, the group was warned of possible hijacking during the mission, a risk Thurman accepted.

“I have lent myself to this,” she told the magazine. “I’m here to help.”

Thurman also had an opportunity to spend one-on-one time with the mother rhinoceros, at one point cradling her head.

“I was so moved,” she explained. “I was just breathing in the dearness of her.”

The star also said she knows that her efforts might seem small, but her experience taught her that every little bit helps.

“I think so many of us feel that there is no point – Who are we? What can we do? There are so many dire situations, and it’s all out of our control. And there is sort of truth to that,” she said. “But what I learned in Africa is that one must make an effort anyway. Because you just don’t know. Until the story is concluded, there is always hope.”