Tag Archives: Black Rhinoceros

World Rhino Day 2018

The rhino poaching scourge continues to make headlines in South Africa, and the happiness at hearing about the ranger’s regular successes in the fight is often tempered by horrible news of another mass-killing incident, insider involvement or botched prosecution. With a 26% reduction in the number of rhinos killed in the first 8 months of 2018 compared to the previous year there’s reason to be optimistic that this year, like 2015, 2016 & 2017, will see a reduction in the number of animals lost and an increase in the number of perpetrators that were apprehended.

This year, on World Rhino Day, let us appreciate and celebrate these prehistoric-looking behemoths, with thanks to the army of dedicated rangers, soldiers and volunteers fighting the war to keep them safe.

Advertisements

World Rhino Day

Today is World Rhino Day.

The statistics on the number of rhinos being killed in South Africa for their horn continues to make for heart-wrenching reading. We continue to loose hundreds of black and white rhinos annually to supply an illegal black market demand from Asian countries.

But the war continues. The brave rangers working daily to protect our natural heritage have not yet given up hope, and neither should we. We’ll continue to do our part to spread the word that rhino horn has no medicinal properties, and by rights should really not be worth any more than fingernails!

Let us celebrate these prehistoric-looking beasts for the magnificent beings that they are, deserving of a place on this planet for eternity.

 

In the rhinos’ home at Hluhluwe-Imfolozi

Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park is the place where the southern white rhino was saved from the brink of extinction in the previous century, by legendary conservationists like Ian Player. Today, the white rhino, and it’s smaller but much more aggressive cousin the black rhino, still find protection in this beautiful reserve, one of the oldest on the continent, where a force of dedicated rangers face a daily onslaught from armed poachers on their behalf.

During our December visit to Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, we enjoyed some wonderful rhino sightings, not least of which the cute and playful little white rhino calf we told you about earlier in the week.

This little fellow, one of the tiniest baby rhino we’ve ever seen and probably not much older than a few weeks, gives us hope that the hard-work of Hluhluwe-Imfolozi’s ranger-corps will not be in vane.

 

 

Magnificence embodied

This must surely rank as one of the most special wildlife encounters we’ve ever had.

We came across this beautiful black rhino cow and her two younger companions (at least one, maybe both, her calves) in December in one of the game reserves we visited on our summer trip to the bush. It was an overcast evening, with the little available light fading fast and perfectly accentuating the cow’s aggressive temperament, so characteristic of the species.

Long may she reign over her piece of African wilderness.

(click on any of the images to view them in a bigger format gallery)

Is there a reason for this white rhino to look so despondent on World Rhino Day?

World Rhino Day 2014

Is there a reason for this white rhinoceros to look so despondent on World Rhino Day? Ponder for a moment on the thought that there’s a good chance this white rhino, that we encountered in the Kruger National Park in August this year, may not be roaming around the wilderness anymore. There’s a good chance this rhino has been killed, its carcass left to rot under the African sun while its horns have already been ground to a fine powder somewhere in Asia.

The 22nd of September is World Rhino Day, a day to reflect on the large-scale slaughter these enigmatic animals are facing due to human greed and superstitious culture. This year alone, South Africa has already lost more than 769 rhinos to poaching (that was the figure as at 12/09/2014), following from 1004 in 2013, 668 in 2012, 448 in 2011, 333 in 2010.., well, the trend is clear.

It is also another chance to express our deep gratitude to those brave men and women out in the bush, fighting a war against the decimation of our wildlife, putting their lives on the line so that black and white rhinos remain a feature of Africa’s natural heritage for generations to come.

WRD2013640px-300x375

Black Rhinoceros

Diceros bicornis

Black Rhino (8)

One of the rarest and most rewarding sightings you can hope to have in a South African game reserve or national park, is of the black rhinoceros. Even the most fleeting glimpse of this worthy member of the charismatic “Big 5” is sure to excite any wildlife lover!

The black rhinoceros is not named for the colour of its hide, which can in fact be vary varied depending on the shade of mud the animal has been rolling in. Instead, it is named in contrast to the other African rhino species, the white rhinoceros. Many people will however testify that the black rhinoceros may well be named for its volatile and extremely aggressive temperament, and having lived through more than one determined black rhino charge, we certainly agree! Just yesterday (30/01/2014) another game ranger was seriously injured in a black rhino attack in South Africa.

Black rhinos are much smaller than the white rhino, and further differs in having a pointed upper lip instead of the wide flat mouth of their “white” cousins, which explains their alternative (and scientifically more correct) name of hook-lipped rhinoceros. These plucky animals weigh up to 1,200kg and stand up to 1.65m high at the shoulder.

Being almost exclusively browsers, black rhinos use their pointed upper lips with great dexterity when feeding on the leaves, shoots, twigs, thorns and flowers of a huge variety of trees, shrubs, herbs and succulents (some of which would be deadly poisonous to other animals).

As long as there’s sufficient food, water and shade available, black rhinos inhabit a wide range of habitats, ranging from the dry riverbeds of the Namib desert to the edges of forests. They tend to be solitary except when mating or when cows are accompanied by their calves, only very occasionally getting together in bigger temporary groupings around waterholes.

Females give birth to single calves, that weigh around 40kg, at intervals of between 3 and 5 years, after a gestation period of 450 days. Black rhinos have a life expectancy of 30 to 40 years in the wild and while adults seldom fall prey to predators, the calves are at risk of attack by lions and spotted hyenas.

Today, the black rhinoceros is considered to be critically endangered. Relentless poaching saw their population dwindle from an estimated 100,000 animals in 1960 to an all time low of 2,410 in 1995. Dedicated conservation efforts resulted in the total population increasing to 4,880 by 2010, of which 1,915 (or 40% of the total) found sanctuary in South Africa’s wild places. However, the explosion in illicit hunting to feed a seemingly insatiable demand in the Far East (where rhino horn is considered to be both medicinal and a status symbol) is threatening once again to bring this majestic animal to the brink of extinction. It is against this backdrop that the recent auction of a black rhino hunting permit by the Dallas Safari Club for US$ 350,000 caused major international controversy.

World Rhino Day 2012

South Africa is home to both species of African rhinoceros: the extremely aggressive black rhino and the much more placid white rhino. Encountering either species during our visits to our country’s wild places is always a thrilling experience and losing these beautiful beasts forever, due to human greed and superstition, is a thought too terrible to ponder.

As I post these images I cannot help but wonder whether the individual animals they depict are still alive and well?

The 22nd of September 2012 is internationally celebrated as World Rhino Day. The message that rhinoceros horn holds no curative or aphrodisiac properties needs to be spread loud and clear so that the market for rhino horn can be wiped out, and it cannot happen soon enough. There are many people from all over the world and from all walks of life working tirelessly, and even putting their own lives in the firing line, to protect these magnificent creatures from savage poachers, but the onslaught from the organised crime syndicates continue unabated – so far this year we’ve lost at least 381 rhinoceros through poaching in South Africa alone (according to the official figures published in September 2012).

Please lend your support by spreading the message of World Rhino Day to the world.