Breaking news just in from the Rhino Fund Uganda confirms that another rhino baby was born on the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary overnight. Nandi, donated some years ago by the Disney Animal Kingdom in Florida to the Rhino Fund Uganda, now had her third baby since she arrived at the sanctuary.
The father is once again Taleo, clearly the dominant bull on the conservancy, who originally came from the Solio Rhino Sanctuary in Kenya with the first group of four, purchased by RFU when the sanctuary was officially opened. The pair first had Obama, named after the American president who also has a Kenyan father and an American mother, in June 2009 before Malaika arrived then in June 2011.
Considering a gestation period of about 16 months, the reproductive rate of rhinos at the Ziwa Sanctuary arguably has set new speed records, as the other two female rhinos too are in the family way again, with Kori expected to deliver in December this year and Bella in March next year. This goes to show that the concept of rhino reintroduction and the establishment of a breeding sanctuary, as conceived by Ray Victurine and put into action by Yvonne Verkaik, Uganda's erstwhile rhino lady, was spot on and the development partners and donors, who generously donated to the Fund in cash and kind, will be more than pleased to hear this latest success story from Ziwa. Of the other two adult females, Kori gave birth to Justice and Laloyo while Bella mothered Augustu and Donna. Apart from the confirmation of the birth, the 7th under the auspices of the Rhino Fund Uganda's dedicated team of wardens, rangers, carers and veterinarians, it is presently unknown what gender the newborn rhino baby is, until the mother will allow her regular ranger escorts to come nearer and ascertain if Ziwa, as it is hoped for, has given birth to another rhino girl or another rhino boy.
Naming the rhino will very likely go to the 'highest bidder', either an individual or a company with keen interest in conservation, who will be able to have clearly defined publicity rights, in order to raise much needed funds for the ever escalating cost of caring for the rhinos and in particular protecting them with high tech equipment for surveillance and monitoring.
The sanctuary is now a 'must visit' location for expatriates and foreign tourists coming to Uganda, and is included on literally all safari itineraries going to or coming from Murchisons Falls National Park. Entrance into the sanctuary, from daybreak until 18.00 hrs, is free though access to the rhinos, normally undertaken on foot with a team of rangers in close attendance, requires prebooking and payment of a fee at the RFU offices on the sanctuary.
Ziwa now has two accommodation units on the conservancy, the Ziwa Rhino Lodge next to the main sanctuary offices which offers a fully fledged restaurant, a camp ground, back packers accommodation and a guest house with three bedrooms and one shared bathroom, ideal for families, while the upmarket Amuka Safari Lodge, a little further away, offers guests more amenities such as a swimming pool, where they can relax after hiking across the sanctuary in search of the prized rhinos.
Ziwa is the ONLY place in Uganda where rhinos can be seen roaming the wild, although the Rhino Fund also brought in the two rhinos kept at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre in Entebbe, which sadly though have failed to reproduce until now. Congratulations to Angie and her team at Ziwa on this magnificent achievement.