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Sun Sep 25 14:16:48 SAST 2016

Fourth rhino calf born at Aquila in three months

TMG Digital | 15 January, 2016 06:45
The calf‚ born on Wednesday morning‚ has suckled on his mother and the mother is well and very protective of the calf‚ according to staff at the reserve. File photo
Image by: ESA ALEXANDER

Rangers and staff at Aquila Private Game Reserve in the Western Cape are ecstatic after the birth of their fourth rhino calf in three months.

A male calf born at the reserve in October and a female calf which saw the light of day on December 16 are both reported to be thriving.

However‚ a third calf‚ born in the early hours of New Year’s Eve had to be rescued from dehydration after being rejected by its mother. To further complicate matters the calf had attached itself to the father‚ who is very aggressive and was making it impossible for vets to get near the calf.

“Searing temperatures in the Karoo meant that the reserve conservation team were in a race against time to uplift the calf to safety. The calf was in desperate need of nourishment and vets on the scene were concentrating on darting the father which‚ of course‚ comes with its own risks‚ this so that they could reach the calf.

“Before this plan could be put into action the father turned on the calf and the conservation and anti-poaching teams sprang into action and put themselves between father and calf. Two of the team members managed to lift the calf into a ‘bakkie’ and race it to safety‚” the reserve’s owners explained.

They added that another attempt had been made to reintroduce the calf to its mother but once again she rejected it.

However‚ the calf had adapted incredibly well to being bottle fed‚ they said.

“It weighed 65kg when rescued and at its last weigh in was topping the scale at 80kg. It is fed approximately 1.7 litres seven times a day. The calf has a small team of dedicated Aquila staff members tending to it. It is not left alone as it tends to get anxious.

“The plan is to get an animal companion for it. The rearing process is an 18 month commitment from Aquila‚ after which it is hoped that it can be reintroduced to the rest of the group on the reserve. Until then he joins his carer for daily jogs through the bush‚ where he explores the vegetation. He is very playful and we are providing it with stimulating items such as balls and tyres. He has become quite a dab hand with the football.

“We have also made a mud bath for him which he loves rolling in. This acts as a sunscreen and moisturising for the calf.”

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