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“IT’S A GIRL!” – Uganda’s first female Rhino in over 30 years is born

By Michelle Sutton

June 4th was a momentous day in Uganda. It was the day that Nandi, a female adult southern white rhino at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary gave birth to the first female rhino born in Uganda in over 30 years. The baby girl is the fourth baby to be born on the sanctuary since June 2009. Her exact weight is not known but estimated to be around 40kg, considerably less than the three male calves that preceded her. Ziwa has decided to auction her name for $3000. Interested parties should contact the Sanctuary with a girl’s name no longer than 6 letters long to allow for her ear notch code. At a time when the world rhino population is under heavy threat due to poaching, the birth of the female calf comes as a great victory for rhino’s, conservationists, the sanctuary and Uganda. It also demonstrates the success of the Rhino Fund’s breeding program.

Rhino Fund Uganda (RFU) registered as an NGO in 1997. In 2002 RFU and Ziwa Ranchers Ltd. entered into a lease agreement on 70 square kilometers of land which became Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. The sanctuary is located in the Nakasongola District 7 kilometers off the Gulu highway from Nakitoma town, en route to Murchison Falls National Park. It is currently home to 10 southern white rhinos which roam freely on the sanctuary; 3 adolescent males, 3 mature males, 3 mature females, 2 of which are due to calf in the near future and last but not least, the unnamed baby girl. Plans are currently underway to bring 6 more females from South Africa, which have been donated by the North West Parks Board. The move is being funded by a private donor and the rhino’s are expected to arrive at the end of July, early August this year. All the rhinos are monitored 24 hours per day by rangers who record their behavior hourly. It’s through this behavioral monitoring that the sanctuary’s staff know when the rhino’s mate and as a result their expectant date for delivery. Nandi was pregnant for the typical gestation period of 16 months, Bella is due to calve in December and Kori in January of 2012.

One of the most exciting reasons to visit the sanctuary is to track the rhino’s on foot under the guidance of an experienced ranger. Your track begins in your vehicle to get you into the general vicinity of where the rhino’s are on that particular day. Then you travel on foot over easy terrain with your ranger leading you to the magnificent creatures. Their size is mind blowing and their nature is that of a gentle giant. To spend time with these animals in their natural environment is an experience not to be missed. Nandi and her baby cannot be tracked by the public for the next several months as the new mother is very protective over her baby. The sanctuary has recently started offering birding walks which are 4 hours long and include a boat trip in a local canoe on the swamp. The area is home to over 200 different bird species and the Shoebill has been spotted a number of times.

Rhino Fund Uganda relies on funding to cover their operating expenses. The tracking cover’s only a portion so the remainder must come from private funding and donors to allow them to successfully carry out their work. The sanctuary employs 110 people, 46 of which are professionally trained armed rangers whose main responsibility is to protect the rhino’s. The entire perimeter which is secured with an electric fence powered by solar energy is also patrolled by foot day and night.

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is an easy 2 ½ hour trip from Kampala. Home cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as sodas, fresh juices, local beer and spirits are served in the sanctuary’s restaurant. If you want to spend the night they have 2 guest houses, budget rooms and a campsite. Amuka Lodge is nearing the final stages of completion and will offer a more luxurious accommodation option with a swimming pool.

To learn more, donate, become a member, sponsor a rhino, sponsor a ranger, visit and track the rhino’s, or to name the baby girl, please contact the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary.

For more information, please contact:
Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
Mobile: +256 772 713410. Email: angie@rhinofund.org