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The Stork Pays A Visit To Botswana’s Rhino

August 29, 2017 Tour Operator No Comments Email Email

Following on from Sanctuary Retreats’ involvement in the successful translocation of a substantial number of black and white rhino to the Moremi Game Reserve in Botswana in 2016, and the establishment of a monitoring program to track the progress of the growing local rhino population, comes exciting news of the arrival of the Reserve’s newest residents.

Ollie and Kandu, Sanctuary Retreats’ two Monitoring Assistants, have identified three mothers with calves born in the last two months, which is fantastic news for the local rhino population, and also marks a significant step forward in the luxury boutique safari operator’s mission to help safeguard one of the world’s most endangered species.

For Kandu, the sightings are real cause for celebration. “The road we have travelled to get to this point hasn’t been without its challenges. Rhinos typically have a gestation period of between 15 – 17 months, and females don’t usually give birth for the first time until they are around 6.5 – 7 years old. Added to that, the interval between calving is 3 – 4 years. So we expected we might have to wait a lot longer than we have to see any babies born in the Reserve from the rhinos introduced last year.”

Keeping track of mothers about to calve also requires close monitoring. Pregnant females leave their crash shortly before giving birth, and stay away for several days afterwards. Astonishingly, calves are ready to stand within one hour. While weaning occurs at around one year of age, calves stay with their mothers for around three years.

By studying the behaviour of the rhino, Ollie and Kandu and their team are gradually learning more about the dangerously endangered species’ territories, foraging and breeding habits. In particular, they are looking to determine the impact and effect of translocation on both the rhino and the environment into which they have been relocated, to assess whether the surrounding area can sustain and support more rhino.

The Monitoring Program is based out of the company’s flagship Sanctuary Chief’s Camp located on Chief’s Island in the heart of the Moremi Game Reserve. To enable Ollie and Kandu monitor and observe rhino effectively throughout the 5,000 square kilometre Moremi Game Reserve, the Company has provided the duo with their own vehicle mounted with a GPS unit, computer and radio, which is also equipped with the latest tracking software and camera equipment so that they can easily pinpoint and identify specific rhino populations within the Reserve.

Prior to commencing in their current roles, Ollie and Kandu both trained extensively with the Mombo Rhino Monitoring Team and Botswana’s Anti-Poaching Unit, and Sanctuary Retreats believes that the on-going collaboration between these organisations, and also Rhino Conservation Botswana, with local camp and lodge operators is an essential step towards protecting Botswana’s rhino population.

Guests staying at Sanctuary Retreats Camp will have a unique opportunity to meet with Ollie and Kandu and find out how the Okavango Delta’s rhino population is thriving.

Sanctuary Chief’s Camp is priced from US$1,180 per person twin share for 1 – 3 nights, with savings of up to 35% for stays of 8 or more nights at any combination of Sanctuary Retreats’ African camps and lodges including Sanctuary Chief’s Camp.

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