Monday, January 10, 2011
Ollie maybe is the most special black rhino in the world or at least with the most special life. He is a completely wild adult black rhino bull, defending his own territory and covering his females. His life is almost the same as every other 'normal' dominant black rhino bull. There is only one difference... Ollie is habituated to human beings, in other words 'tame'. He has lived in Johannesburg Zoo before. Black rhinos are known to be extremely agressive in the wild (I know!), but in captivity they often are more tame and reliable than white rhinos (who are more relaxed in the wild). Their very poor eyesight, life in thick bush, shyness and small body size (compared to white rhinos) explain the black rhinos aggression in the wild: in most cases they attack. In captivity all these 'down-sides' disappear once the animal gets to know its keepers and surroundings. When Ollie was brought to our park he slowly had to learn to be wild and independent again. Now he has the best of both worlds! For example his territory includes the bush around our office buildings, which need no defending as no other rhino dares to come close anyway. He also comes to say hello on a regular basis, eating vegetables from our hands. I know that all wild animals stay wild, but with Ollie (and in the jeep) I do feel safe as long as you talk to him to make clear that you are there (he is almost blind) and you don't make sudden movements. Now he recognises my voice, he even runs to me when I call him! To feel his lip gives such an insight in the way he browses. It's soft, gentle and acts similar to the trunk of an elephant. Black rhinos are amazing animals! From over 70.000 in the late sixties, these animals were hunted down to only 3.610 in the entire world! Unfortunately the rhino poaching continues as never before. When does humanity wake up?
All our sold sable antelopes get a thorough health test prior to transportion. This is necessary to prevent outbreaks of contagious diseases under the domestic cattle. Wild animals do not always show clinical diseases while infected, but they can still spread them. Therefore the wild animal health regulations for contagious diseases are very strict in South Africa. These rules are well maintained by the State vets and veterinary technicians. They are always present with each translocation and testing of a wild animal. I caught 24 sable antelopes 4 weeks earlier from the farm and put them into quarantine (isolated from other animals). After the quarantine period I darted them to take blood and do a TB skin test: injecting Tuberculin in the skin. Three days later I darted them again to read the TB skin test: measuring the thickness of the skin again. When the skin is thicker than 3 days earlier, this means a suspicious or positive reaction. The bloods were send off to the lab to get tested for TB and Foot and Mouth disease. All blood tests and skin tests were negative, so the next week we could load all sable antelopes on the transporation truck. All went very well and just heared they are happy in their new homes.