Wednesday, January 11, 2012

It's a Girl! - Ziwa Welcomes another Baby Rhino

Bella with her baby girl born January 10, 2012
Photo by Corporal Ayiko Robert
Used with permission from Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is very excited about the arrival of the fifth baby born on the sanctuary on January 10, 2012 to proud mother Bella a southern white rhino.  This is the second girl to be born on the sanctuary in the last seven months.  On June 4th of 2011, Nandi gave birth to the first female rhino born in Uganda in over 30 years, a momentous day indeed.  She was named Malaika meaning "angel" in Swahili.  At a time when the world rhino population is under heavy threat due to poaching, the birth of the female calves comes as a great victory for rhino’s, conservationists, the sanctuary and Uganda.  It also demonstrates the success of the Rhino Fund’s breeding program.

Rhino Fund Uganda (RFU) registered as an NGO in 1997.  In 2002 RFU and Ziwa Ranchers Ltd. entered into a lease agreement on 70 square kilometers of land which became Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary.  The sanctuary is located in the Nakasongola District 7 kilometers off the Gulu highway from Nakitoma town, en route to Murchison Falls National Park.  It is currently home to 11 southern white rhinos which roam freely on the sanctuary; 3 adolescent males, 3 mature males, 3 mature females, the baby girl Malaika and the newest baby girl which has yet to be named.  All the rhinos are monitored 24 hours per day by rangers who record their behavior hourly.  It’s through this behavioral monitoring that the sanctuary’s staff know when the rhino’s mate and as a result their expectant date for delivery.  The typical gestation period for a rhino is 16 months.  

One of the most enticing reasons to visit the sanctuary is to track the rhino’s on foot under the guidance of an experienced ranger.  Your track begins in your vehicle to get you into the general vicinity of where the rhino’s are on that particular day.  Then you travel on foot over easy terrain with your ranger leading you to the magnificent creatures.  Their size is mind blowing and their nature is that of a gentle giant.  To spend time with these animals in their natural environment is an experience not to be missed.  The new mothers and their babies cannot be tracked by the public for several months after the birth as they are very protective over their babies.  The sanctuary has recently started offering birding walks which are 4 hours long and include a boat trip in a local canoe in the wetlands.  The area is home to over 200 different bird species and the Shoebill has been spotted a number of times.  

Rhino Fund Uganda relies on funding to cover their operating expenses.  The tracking cover’s only a portion so the remainder must come from private funds and donors to allow them to successfully carry out their work.  The sanctuary employs 110 people, 46 of which are professionally trained armed rangers whose main responsibility is to protect the rhino’s.  The entire perimeter is secured with an electric fence powered by solar energy and is patrolled by foot day and night.  

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is an easy 2 ½ hour trip from Kampala.  Home cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as sodas, fresh juices, local beer and spirits are served in the sanctuary’s restaurant.  If you want to spend the night they have 2 guest houses, budget rooms and a campsite.  Amuka Lodge has now opened on the sanctuary providing a luxurious accommodation option with a swimming pool.

To learn more, donate, become a member, sponsor a rhino, sponsor a ranger, visit and track the rhino’s visit their website

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