Celebrating World Rhino Day
By Ryan Hillier

World Rhino Day is an opportunity to continue to raise awareness about the battle for survival faced by a species under enormous pressure. But it is also an occasion to celebrate these modern-day dinosaurs, and for us here at Kwandwe there has been an extra special reason to do so lately!

The discovery of a new baby rhino is always incredibly special, and this time even more so as it was completely unexpected due to the very young age of its mother!

Baby Rhino - Image 1

Baby Rhino - Kwandwe







According to most of the books we learn from as guides, and all the research that has gone into compiling said books, female white rhino would usually reach sexual maturity at an age of about 5-6 years. This is when she would mate for the first time, and then after a pretty lengthy 16-month pregnancy would give birth to her first calf at an age of about 6 and a half to 7 and a half years old. Now these figures or dates are not hard and fast rules but certainly are the norm, they are the averages after lots and lots of time and research that’s been done on the species.

I can clearly remember sitting as a young, fresh faced trainee guide (a very long time ago, I know!), listening to the words of one of the senior trackers, “The animals don’t read the books, they can do whatever they want!” Those words have rung true for me on many occasions over the years, and again now with this new mother and her calf.

This female, who was also born here on Kwandwe, has given birth at barely 5 and a half years old. According to “the books” she should have only just reached maturity and have just mated for the first time, and yet that must have occurred 16 months earlier when she was only 4!

This is not completely unheard of, but it is definitely unusual and right in the youngest edge of the spectrum. Amazingly it’s something we have recorded here on a few other occasions with different females over the years too.

Why is it happening that they are breeding at such young ages here? To be completely honest we don’t know, but in light of what these incredible animals face as a species it is something we are very happy about! Rhino’s need as much going for them as possible, and with each new calf born it gives us hope…especially when it’s such an unexpected delight! What a way to celebrate World Rhino Day…