A rhino named Christmas

Gourlays Ranch, just north of Bulawayo, was a property badly affected by the Fast Track Land Reform programme, and the owners and all the rangers had been chased off, leaving a population of black rhinos with no protection from poachers. In 2005, the Lowveld Rhino Trust, therefore successfully translocated the 26 black rhinos from Gourlays to a conservancy called Bubye Valley. Among them were a rhino named Christmas and her four-month-old female calf, Cake.

The pair settled quickly around the meeting of the two main rivers that flow through Bubye. Christmas has since had three other calves: Mince-pie in 2008, Gift in 2010 and Carol in 2012. The Lowveld team expect her next calf in early 2014.

Cake, the first calf, has grown well and at the age of six, she had had her own calf: a male, named Muffin, born in 2011. We expect Cake to have her second calf any time now. The team at the Lowveld Rhino Trust has already drawn up a list of possible cake-themed names: Cupcake, Lamington, maybe even a Tart.

Christmas’s whole family (now numbering six) continue to live very close to each other. Last year, the Lowveld Rhino Trust’s monitors were fortunate enough to see five of them at once – Christmas, with her current dependant calf Carol, her previous calf Gift, and Cake and Muffin. Quite a Christmas family get-together.

Thankfully, this family hasn’t suffered at the hands of poachers. Rangers and rhino monitors will be working hard over the holiday season to keep these rhinos, and all the others in the Lowveld, safe over this Christmas period.

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