Rhino moved as drought hits park

2015-12-11 08:04
A calf is loaded at uMkhuze before it collapsed and had to be physically carried into the crate.

A calf is loaded at uMkhuze before it collapsed and had to be physically carried into the crate. (Supplied)

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WATCH: Incredible moment digger frees black rhino from mud in KZN

2015-12-02 13:31

A KZN rhino who found himself stuck in heavy mud while trying to drink from a drying-up watering had to be rescued by a digger. Watch.WATCH

Pietermaritzburg - An emergency rescue at iSimangaliso Wetland Park on Thursday saw six rhinos dehorned and relocated to the Western Shores of the park.

A press statement sent by the park said four female adults and two calves were relocated from the uMkhuze section of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park to the Western Shores due to their deteriorating conditions as a result of the drought.

“The translocations followed on from a detailed in loco inspection of uMkhuze by senior iSimangaliso and Ezemvelo park managers, together with section rangers, as part of the ongoing drought monitoring across iSimangaliso,” said the statement.

An aerial survey was then conducted to see the condition of the individual rhinos in the park.

“Animals are rated on a scale of one to five. Five being optimum, four being good, three being fair, two being poor and one being very poor,” said the statement.

“During the survey, around 15 adult rhino found to be in the lower end of class three and below and were identified for translocation.”

iSimangaliso director Andrew Zaloumis said in the statement that the severity of the current drought, coupled with extremely high temperatures, had resulted in food shortages and severe nutritional stress for some of the animals.

“It was determined that the rhino in poor condition should be relocated as an emergency measure,” said Zaloumis.

“It was important to do this before their condition deteriorated to a point where they would have been too weak to be translocated.”

iSimangaliso translocated rhinos in 2004, where 23 rhino were moved from uMkhuze to the Eastern Shores, and adapted well to the wetter conditions.

“uMkhuze is currently experiencing one of the most severe droughts in recorded history — almost as bad as the one experienced in the 1950’s,” said Zaloumis.

Five adult white rhinos have died in uMkhuze due to the drought.

Zaloumis said some of the rhinos had become stuck in the mud at iNsumo Pan and were too weak to get out or to be pulled out. However, the rainfall on Wednesday night and in the early hours of yesterday provided some relief.

Zaloumis said far more rain was needed before the rhinos were not completely out of danger. “Intensive monitoring will continue and the situation reassessed early in the New Year,” he said.

Read more on:    isimangaliso wetland park  |  pietermaritzburg  |  drought  |  rhino poaching

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