I’ve never been a great lover of zoos, in spite of the great conservation work many of them do, and have always liked my willdife as ‘natural’ as possible, but watching the final episode of Attenborough’s Africa this week, reminded me of my encounter with a young black rhino named Lola, in Kenya.
In my case the youngster had been born to a blind rhino mother and while she was large enough to defend herself, being blind she couldn’t defend her young calf from almost certain predation by lion or hyena. Consequently reserve rangers always had to take her calves off her, ( she was a prodigious breeder), and raise her calves on the bottle. This gave visitors to Lewa Downs a chance to get much closer to a very rare and hugely threatened species than would normally be possible.
In spite of my doubts, this was a hugely uplifting experience; the calf tottered about, playing and ‘talking’ to us, eager for her very large bottle of milk, and then promptly fell asleep in the grass. You couldn’t fail but love her!
Experiences like this and seeing black or white rhino in the wild, makes the current plight of rhino in Africa, where one animal is being poached every day, all the more horrific. I’m sure if we all could meet a rhine like Lola, this senseless trade would stop.