Albatros Africa Foundation
Albatros Black Rhino Breeding Project
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Black Rhino (Diceros bicornis) is listed as Critically Endangered with only approximately 5,042 – 5,455 individuals left across Africa today. This species made a comeback from the brink of extinction about 20 years ago where the population was around 2,500 individuals. Poaching and habitat loss is the main driver for the decline of this species, and it is our responsibility to ensure their safety and survival for the benefit of future generations.
And so, Albatross Africa recently embarked on a new conservation journey, in collaboration with The Rhino Orphanage, in starting up a Black Rhino Breeding Project on a private game reserve in Limpopo. For years there had been a single Black Rhino cow on the private game reserve until 2019 when Albatros CEO, Søren Rasmussen, had decided to purchase her a mate in the attempt to assist the meta-population.
The Black Rhino bull arrived in July 2019 and has since then established well in his new environment, as well as introducing himself to his mate. The two have been seen together on numerous occasions, however, due to the typical behavior of a Black Rhino, who enjoys the cover of the thickets, we might never know if any mating attempt had occurred between the two. The bull is still fairly skittish in his new home and not completely trusting of vehicles or people, however, he now has ample space to move about freely and hide whenever he feels pressured for any reason.
In order to ensure the wellbeing and safety of these magnificent creatures, Albatros had employed a Rhino Monitor for the property whose daily duties are to relocate the Rhino’s and monitor them for a set period of time to ensure that there are no injuries, illnesses or uncommon behavior. With this appointed Rhino Monitor we hope to know when a mating had occurred between the two individuals and anxiously wait for 15 months, the gestation period until the mother has the calf.
We have already taken a step into the right direction by introducing the bull to the cow, success will be once that cow produces offspring and we have a hand in supporting the dwindling population to grow in the wild so that people can preferably see these animals in the wild rather than in a zoo or on images seen on the internet.
Albatros Orphan White Rhino Project
About one year ago Albatros in collaboration with The Rhino Orphanage, has taken a major step into releasing a few sub-adult orphaned White Rhino’s onto a private game reserve in Limpopo taking the very last step in their rehabilitation phase of becoming “wild” Rhino’s. Sadly the reason why these rhinos were orphaned is due to greed and status in South-east Asia, poaching for the horn.
These released Rhino’s, and many others who are still in Rhino Orphanages across South Africa, all lost their mother in the most horrific way anyone can imagine. The mother is brutally murdered or sometimes only wounded with a gunshot and their horns hacked out of their faces while the little calves are helplessly standing by trying to protect its mother, to no avail, and sometimes getting injured themselves. Fortunately, the majority of the times these calves are found and immediately translocated to a Rhino Orphanage where the facilities are well prepared to hand-raise these calves and eventually release them back into the wild.
Albatros had appointed a full-time Rhino Monitor whose daily duties are to relocate the population and ensure that all of them are safe with no serious injuries and also to assess their behaviour in their new home.
This final step of releasing orphaned Rhino’s onto a private game reserve will, in the long run, aid the meta-population if bulls and cows can produce offspring of their own. Due to this release being one of the first of its kind, where orphans are introduced to a resident population on the private game reserve, a behavioural study was conducted to compare the orphans’ behaviour to that of the resident wild Rhino’s.
The study was conducted from March 2019 until February 2020, where a Behavioural Ecologist and the Rhino Monitor located the Rhino’s on a daily basis and spent ten minutes per Rhino noting its behaviour and interactions between their fellow orphans and residents. The goal of this study is to see if the orphans behave the same as what wild Rhino’s do, and making informed decisions on whether or not they can be released into an area where there are game drive pressures of vehicles, or if they should rather be released in an area where there is no interaction with them whatsoever.
Due to the poaching crisis in Southern Africa, it will depend on the orphans to allow the population to bounce back and increase steadily in a safe environment where they are protected and cared for.