White Rhino behaviour at night

There used to be several hundred northern white rhinos (Ceratotherium simum cottoni) and eastern black rhinos (Diceros bicornis michaeli) in Uganda. The northern white rhino could only be found to the west of the Albert Nile while the eastern black rhino could only be found in the north and east of Uganda (east of the Albert Nile and north of the Victoria Nile). In the 1970s a small number of both white and black rhinos were translocated out of their range to Murchison Falls National Park.

The civil unrest of the 1970s and early 1980s saw heavy poaching resulting in the extermination of Uganda's rhino population, with the last rhino killed in 1983.

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Endangered and guarded from birth - a baby white rhino

Rhino horn has become such a valued illegal commodity that the Kenya Wildlife Service has White rhino mother and her months-old baby under 24-hour surveillance. I was privileged to spend an entire morning watching the bond between the two in Meru National Park.

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Birth of a wild white rhino calf at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Uganda

It is extremely rare to witness the birth of a rhinoceros calf in the wild, let alone video the experience. Unlike many free-ranging rhino populations living in protected areas, the white rhino population at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in central Uganda is monitored 24 hours a day.

The adult female named Kori was expected to have her third calf in January 2014 following a calving interval of 24 months, as had been experienced with her previous calf. The monitoring rangers were diligently watching for signs of an impending birth with the current calf being aggressively chased off.

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Female Behaviour Before and after Calving

The paper presents details of the dispersal and social behaviour of the three adult female white rhinos at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Uganda in the period one month before, the month during and one month after calving where published information from other reserves is limited.

All six births occurred during night-time hours in areas of dense habitat. Births took place within 32 hours of the older calves being chased away by their mothers. Each female moved within the rhinos’ preferred habitat of open woodland with short grass and spent most of her time alone with her new calf and little time associating with other rhinos in the population.

Apart from the chasing away of the older calves, there was no indicator of an impending birth.

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Nasty or Nice? The real rhino

The paper presents details of the dispersal and social behaviour of the three adult female white rhinos at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Uganda in the period one month before, the month during and one month after calving where published information from other reserves is limited.

All six births occurred during night-time hours in areas of dense habitat. Births took place within 32 hours of the older calves being chased away by their mothers. Each female moved within the rhinos’ preferred habitat of open woodland with short grass and spent most of her time alone with her new calf and little time associating with other rhinos in the population.

Apart from the chasing away of the older calves, there was no indicator of an impending birth.

Download and read the full article