Birth of rhino calf brings joy

2020-01-08 06:01
Die renosterkalfie soek melk by haar ma, Bembi. Foto: Ayesha Cantor

Die renosterkalfie soek melk by haar ma, Bembi. Foto: Ayesha Cantor

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A RHINO calf was born on Friday afternoon in the Kragga Kamma Game Reserve in Port Elizabeth.

She is the first rhino born in the reserve since Bella, a 20-year-old rhino, was shot by poachers in June 2018. A visitor brought the news of the calf’s birth, said Ayesha Cantor, co-owner of the wildlife sanctuary.

“We had already started to think that the rhino cow (Bembi) was not pregnant. And that’s when I told the rhino watchers just last week that she wasn’t going to calve,” said Cantor.

During her first visit to the reserve, Monique le Grange, of Port Elizabeth, noticed something unusal and informed management.

“My boyfriend and I watched two or three rhinos in the bushes. It was then that I saw the blood on the cow’s legs.”

Although she had never seen a rhino before, she soon realised what was happening and knew that there had to be a calf.

“I grabbed the park’s pamphlet and called the number on it. Within five minutes everyone was there.”

Le Grange and her family waited for an hour to see the calf, but Bembi refused to show them.

“Our baby was in the car with us and we couldn’t wait much longer.

“I did see some photos later and we will definitely go back to see the calf,” Le Grange said.

Cantor said she and the rest of the reserve’s team waited about three hours before they could see the new addition to their rhino family.

She is the seventh rhino calf to be born on the reserve.

While everyone is excited about the new calf, Bonnie, Bembi’s older calf, as well as Tank, Bembi’s adoptive calf, must make way for the newcomer. Tank was 16 months old when his mother, Bella, was shot dead. Bembi took Tank under her wing and took care of Bonnie.

“Bonnie and Tank are sad that they are being pushed away to make room for the newcomer. Particularly Tank, I think it reminds him of the time he was orphaned. Fortunately, the two young rhinos can comfort each other,” she said.

Cantor also emphasised after Bella’s death, the reserve tightened its security measures even further.

The rhinos are now monitored electronically 24 hours a day and are guarded by a guard.

In addition, their horns are kept short to keep prying poachers away.

Cantor called on the community to help with a name for the new calf. Suggestions on their Facebook page will be welcomed.

“The rhinos belong not only to the reserve, but also to each of our visitors. That is why we want to make the community part of the exciting process.”

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