Friday, May 24, 2013

Three orphaned black rhinos released back into the wild in Zimbabwe

The big day finally arrived. The team started early to avoid any unnecessary unsettling changes in the orphaned rhinos' normal morning routine. Straight after their morning bottles of milk, both rhinos were tranquilized. Once the drugs took effect, the capture team moved in, notching both rhinos' ears for future identification purposes, drawing blood to analyze for health/disease checks, and fitting a horn transmitter to the older Bebrave to aid post-release monitoring. Loading tranquilized BeBrave for reintroduction After his mother was killed by poachers, BeBrave was all alone. To minimize his stress, he was hand-reared with another young animal, an eland named Sparky. Sparky and BeBrave lived together for many months before black rhino orphan LongPlaying arrived. On the day of the translocation, Sparky watched closely over the fence - unaware that he was to be next.Our plan? To release all three hand-raised animals together to maximize their comfort in their new home - after all, they had been amicably living together for well over a year! The drive to the release area took nearly 2 hours, which is short by normal translocation standards. A quiet water point, not normally used by the only other known rhino in the area,BeBrave and LongPlaying back in the wild was chosen in the hope that the two young rhinos will be able to establish new home ranges without having to fight for their space. BeBrave and LongPlaying quickly joined up before quietly walking off down the road - a rewarding sight after a year-and-a-half of daily human care and interaction! Sparky, the hand-raised eland, was released at the same water Sparky the eland is released point. Our hope was that thethree friends would re-join each other in the bush. However, it appears that a herd of wild eland came through to drink at the release water point later that same day and Sparky has not been seen in the company of the young rhinos since - which we think is a good thing! Hopefully he has settled in well with his new herd. Source: International Rhino Foundation

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