Any birth is an exciting event, but the appearance of a black rhino calf gives special cause for celebration. And that’s exactly what happened in May in Liwonde National Park, Malawi.
The worldwide population is estimated to be around 5,000 (WWF) and the species is classified as ‘critically endangered’, just one stage away from being extinct in the wild. Just a few decades ago as numbers dipped to 2,400, extinction looked distinctly possible. They exist only in southern and eastern Africa. There are currently 14 black rhinos in Malawi, though now we can make that 15. So this is a very significant birth, and is testament in large part to the ongoing work of the Liwonde National Park Monitoring and Research Programme.
In Kenya, meanwhile, the Kenya Wildlife Service, Northern Rangelands Trust and Lewa Wildlife Conservancy have combined forces to work on a relocation programme to expand the black rhino population. They aim to move at least 20 rhinos from Lewa, Nakuru and Nairobi National Parks to a sanctuary in the Sera Community Conservancy, and 2 have already successfully completed the move. It is hoped that this will boost tourism in the area as well as increasing Kenya’s black rhino population.
Rhinos are one of the oldest groups of mammals on the planet, and they perform an important role in the ecosystem. Their protection and continued presence creates large conservation areas which benefits not only the rhinos but also other creatures such as elephants.
Smaller and shyer than the white rhino, black rhinos are most active at night, when they search for and consume food and water, and spending the hottest part of the day resting in the shade or in muddy waters. They have 2 horns, which makes them prime targets for poachers and necessitates their protection. As well as the work being undertaken in Malawi, efforts are also being made in countries such as South Africa, Namibia.
Not letting black rhinos steal all the limelight, there is white rhino news too, as Grassland Safari Lodge welcomes 2 males, aged 5 and 7. They were released into the reserve on 10th July and are busy settling in and have recently been seen drinking at the pan in front of the lodge.
Rhino facts: did you know:
In the wild they can live for up to 35 years.
If necessary they can run up to 35 mile per hour and can change direction surprisingly quickly!
The oxpeckers on their back help remove ticks and alert rhinos to danger by their alarm calls.
Their thick skin is prone to sunburn, one reason they like to coat themselves in mud.
Read more about rhinos here:
You can play your part by supporting organisations like WWF, financially and morally, and by joining our ‘Helping Rhinos’ holiday safari and making an important financial contribution to conservation work in Botswana, or by taking part in rhino darting and tracking in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. Our Remote and Rare holiday in Kenya offers the chance to see both black and white rhino, as well as spending time with rangers and researchers for precious insights into wildlife conservation.