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

02 December, 01:31 PM

Ahmed Areff, News24.

Durban - A rhino who found himself stuck in heavy mud while trying to drink from a drying-up watering hole at a private game reserve in KwaZulu-Natal had to be rescued by a digger.

Simon Naylor, the conservation manager at the Phinda Private Game Reserve said the rhino was probably stuck for "a few good hours"  before being spotted on November 14. 

"What happened basically is that there is a water hole that has been drying up, that the animals often come up to drink at,"  Naylor told News24. 

"He [the rhino]  managed to get himself stuck in the middle of a muddy watering hole. He must have smelt some surface water and tried to get to it.

"When he got to the middle, the mud sucked him. He didn't keep on sinking, but he was stuck, and couldn't move." 

KZN is one of five provinces that have recently been declared drought disaster areas.  

Naylor said he and his team looked at a variety of options to get the rhino out of the muddy watering hole. 

"One was to try and get a rope around him and try and pull him out. It would have been quite dangerous to get close - he is quite feisty, and the people would have gotten stuck," Naylor said. 

"He would also have gotten stressed and if he somehow got loose and someone was there, it would have been dangerous. " 

He said tying a rope around the rhino's neck and pulling it out could have potentially injured the animal. 

"I even thought of getting a helicopter to try and pull him out, but eventually we saw that the ground underneath was quite hard, so we decided to dig him out.

"It took us a couple of hours, and we were concerned with the noise the digger was making, and that the bucket was getting very close to him... but he seemed to be fine." 

The rhino did try to horn the digger at one point when it got close to him. 

"We made the opening and eventually he broke through and stood there on the firm ground for a minute - almost like he was finding his feet - and then he walked out of the path we created and wandered off into the bush,"  Naylor said.

"He didn't charge anyone and he didn't have any injuries. We have seen him on a few occasions afterwards and he looks ok." 

He says rain began to fall in the area about a week later. 

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