Humanity has a very long history of domesticating animals for a variety of uses. Nowhere is this more true than in Africa, a continent reknowned for its wildly varying and frequently hostile terrain. Ancient Egypt is the first African civilization that is definitively known to have used domesticated animals on the battlefield; at some point between 1700-1500 B.C., several records show that horse-drawn chariots were a standard part of Egyptian battle formations, and every subsequent African civilization has used a variety of animals to support wartime efforts, from the Carthaginian war elephants to the Bedouin camel riders. Even today, many modern armies still use domesticated animals for a variety of wartime purposes.
However, necessity is the mother of invention, and many would-be beastmasters throughout history have attempted to domesticate more difficult and dangerous animals when the standard beasts were insuficient or unavailable. Tigers, bears, komodo dragons, various raptors, large snakes, and other such unusual animals have been the target of erratic efforts to turn them into usable war machines, the vast majority of which end in failure. Of all these attempts few are more dubious and more dangerous than the rhinoceros.
During the early stages of the African revolts, several European brigades were sent to Africa to suppress the rebels and reconquer territory. One of these brigades was making its way through southern Sudan, and was none too gentle about is treatment of the natives. Unfortunately for the tribespeople of the area, their weapons were insufficient against the heavy armor and weaponry of the Europeans, and their attempts to use horses and camels were equally futile. After several crushing defeats, a group of young Sudanese men were camping for the night, licking their wounds with equal parts anger and alchohol. It did not take much time for them to get roaring drunk, and it was in this condition that their camp was startled by a fast moving herd of White Rhinoceri, displaced by the European brigade. With their drunken fury raised to a fever pitch by this insult, the young men took off after the rhinoceri, running, riding, and hurling insults the whole way. After many long minutes of exertion, and a few deaths, the chaos began to resolve itself with a couple dozen young men riding the backs of the rhinoceri, hanging on for dear life. It was in this condition that a European recoinassance company found them, attracted by the noise. All hell broke lose as the rhinoceri were goaded into a panic, trampling infantry and crushing or flipping small trucks and wagons; the Sudanese riders responded by hurling what little booze and explosives they had left at the stunned Europeans. The battle lasted for about half an hour, and most of the Sudanese riders died, as did about half the rhinoceri; however, the European company lost a third of its total fighting strength in dead, wounded, and destroyed equipment, and was thoroughly demoralized and routed from the field of battle. As word of this victory spread, many of the more brave (or foolhardy, if you prefer) young men of the African tribes began rounding up and breeding rhinoceri, and the Rhino Riders were formed.
There is no real organization or training among the Rhino Riders, for rhinos are ill-tempered beasts who respond to riders even worse than most untamed animals do. If you manage to ride a rhino and not be thrown from its back, you are an initiate. If you can actually exercise some vague control over a rhino's speed and general direction, you are an expert. If you can do all of this while throwing incendiaries and explosives, you are a full-fledged Rhino Rider.
Because of the rowdy and unprofessional nature of their "training", Rhino Riders are widely regarded as a severe pain in the ngquza, and are usually avoided. However, their wild disregard for pain and death, and the extreme toughness and power of their "mounts", means that most warlords are willing to tolerate them as long as they can maintain some semblance of sobriety.
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