Sunday, January 17, 2010

ALL respect for black rhinos!

Learning every day here. Lucky to work with the best wildlife specialists in the field, because some actions with wild animals are just too difficult and too dangerous to do without lots of experience. One of them is releasing a black rhino into the field from a crate. Black rhinos are very different from white rhinos; the more I learn about them, the more I understand that they are completely different animals. Black rhinos have very poor eyesight and are smaller than white rhinos. Because black rhinos live in thick bush, they are more quickly irritated and can be very agressive! One would say that it must be easy to release a black rhino from a crate: just open the door! This happened in previous days, but the agression of an aggitated black rhino (after being transported in a crate, he or she is for sure not in the best mood!) is BIG problem, for both the people and the rhino itself. Very often the just released animal attacks everything he/she sees first thing: the crate, the cars, the people... Therefore wildlife vets have developed this new technique and I was lucky to assist, as it was very impressive and learnful! The theory is: let the rhino walk out only a few steps and let him fall asleep just a few steps in front of the crate. This required very good timing! First of all the 'brake' was applied: a rope around a hind leg to be able to stop the animal when it takes off, the same as when 'walking a white rhino'. Then a rope was prepared in front of the door to be able to stop the rhino from running away. When the team was ready and prepared, the rhino was darted with anaesthetics inside the crate. Then we waited until the rhino was almost falling asleep... The timing of when to open the door requires loads and loads of experience with this species. In this case the door opened a little bit too early and the rhino run off. Luckily the rope and lots of strong arms kept the rhino close the crate, where he fell asleep. Wow, very impressive to see the power of this beautiful animal. While he was sleeping, we removed everything: the crate, the truck and all cars. He woke up very relaxed only seeing bush, trying to find out what had happened! In the moment he has settled well into his new home.

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