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Update on the Orphaned Rhinos - May 2013

Be Brave and Long Playing back in the Wild
By Natasha Anderson

The big day finally arrived. The team started early to avoid any unnecessary unsettling changes in the rhinos’ normal morning routine. Straight after their morning bottles of milk both rhinos were tranquilized with a potent cocktail of drugs. Once the drugs took effect the capture team moved in, notching both rhinos ears for future identification purposes, drawing blood to analyse for health/disease checks and fitting a horn transmitter to the older Bebrave to aid post-release monitoring.

All the commotion attracted the attention of the hand raised eland Sparky who had been BB’s companion before LP arrived. Watching all the activity over the fence the eland was quite unaware he was to be next as the plan was to release all three hand-raised animals together since they had been living together for well over a year.

The drive to the release area took nearly two hours which is short by normal translocation standards. A quiet water point not normally used by the only other known rhino in the area was chosen in the hope that the two young rhinos will be able to establish themselves new home ranges in this area without disruption. The release went smoothly with the rhinos joining up with each other quickly before quietly walking off down the road. A rewarding sight after a year and a half of daily hand raising care.

The hand-raised eland was released at the same water point. The hope was that the three friends would re-join each other in the bush but it appears that a herd of wild eland came through to drink at the release water point later in the day and Sparky’s has not been seen in the company of the young rhinos since. Hopefully he is now also back with his own kind.


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