A Remarkable Rhino Rescue, Part 2
Words and pics Michael Fitt, Wilderness Safaris Botswana Sustainability Coordinator
After a remarkable rescue and rehabilitation programme, Wilderness safaris release a black rhino and her calf.
After almost six weeks in the boma, we released the black rhino mother and her calf.
We had picked up the calf at one week old, and so at the time of release he was about seven weeks old. It has been quite extraordinary to watch him develop at this young stage. For example when we first picked him up, his horn was completely flat but by release he had a small hammer developing on his nose.
The injuries around his ears have completely healed and although he will need to adjust, I’m sure he will learn how to cope without directional hearing ability. The muscles around his ears are able to move while he listens to exterior noises.
His limp at this stage is difficult to measure. He appears to be completely able-bodied. He can walk and run and jump, and often shows off these abilities. However when he walks slowly it appears that he still has a slight limp. His muscle development in the right front leg appears to be less than in the left, and it is my opinion that this will be rectified by increased exercise, which he should get outside of the boma.
In short I believe we have done all we can, and given the increased rainfall and wind, it is the right time to release the mother and calf. She is displaying increased agitation at her extended stay, especially with the onset of the rain.
The release went very well. We fed them shortly after 3 pm and opened the gate at 4 pm. It took 25 minutes for her to finally leave, as she was still eating. She tested the air several times prior to walking out, and then finally gave a classic black rhino snorting session as she moved out of the boma. The calf followed a few seconds behind her and they moved off together.
We will now attempt to find them every day to ensure that they are still together. We will continue to monitor their progress and keep you updated on their progress – it is difficult to tell how the young one will cope due to its injuries but we are positive at this stage and hope for the best.