Saturday, 8 March 2014

Okutala: Rhinos

Okutala was already pretty cool with being home to 3 giraffes and 4 elephants but they also have 4 rhinos. Unlike the other animals the rhinos will probably not ever be released but will have a large enclosure to live in. They won’t be released due to the high risk of them being poached for their horn. These are white rhinos, though I called them red rhinos due to the dirt. White rhinos have a flat nose for grazing unlike the black rhinos who have a hooked nose for easier eating bushes. 

The 2 pairs are: Noah & Valarie and Dan & Dina. 

As guests we did see them every day, well actually twice a day since we got to feed them a bale of lovely lucern hay to them morning and afternoon. Felt weird feeding beautiful lucern ( alfalfa) hay to rhinos instead of horses (though the 9 horses at the lodge got it as well.) 

Dan & Dina are the newer pair who are still a bit shy of humans since they did come from a hunting lodge. But are slowly coming around. Noah & Valerie are the older pair who may also be pregnant now. :D It would be super exciting to have a baby rhino in , wait for it ..... A year and a half! LOL 

Most of the animals here are radio collard and the rhinos are no exception. I had always wondered where or how they get radio collard. Turns out they wear it as an anklet on the left hind leg. And they actually get micro chipped twice: one in their neck and one in their horn. The theory being that if the horn is cut off and found, it can be returned to the owner. No like it is a lot of help since the rhino would most likely be dead by that point. That was something I hadn’t known is that you can’t even protect the rhinos from poaching by cutting off their horns (very controversial idea) because there is actually a big (5kg) portion of horn under the skin which people will dig out as well as every thing else visible. But when ivory is worth an insane amount, people will do anything to get it.  

And one thing I always smile at is the rhino house. It is a pretty impressive building of small pens and shoots to move the rhinos through and to load/unload. I smile because back at Mill Park ( The thoroughbred stud farm in Oz where I lived/worked at) we had the elephant house and hippodrome, so now I know of a rhino house. And that loading shoot is pretty impressive. 

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