Baby rhino in good health, say officials

THE five-day-old baby rhino at Nakitoma in Nakasongola district is playful and adorable, the sanctuary managers have said.

The mother is still too protective, but the baby is extremely playful, said Angie Genade, the executive director of the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary.

Nandi, the 10-year-old mother, was aggressive towards the intrusion of wildlife officials and journalists who rushed to the sanctuary after The New Vision broke the story of the birth of the rhino on Monday.

After tracking the seven rhinos for two hours, journalists took positions on tree tops to see the baby.

It took photographers about three hours before they could capture the baby, whose mother was hidden in thickets.

After suckling, the baby kept on moving a few metres away from Nandi.
The sanctuary managers have not established the gender of the baby, but two names, Obama or Michelle, are being proposed.

They say the rhinos at the sanctuary have historical ties with the two names.
While Nandi is one of the two southern white rhinos donated by the Disney Animal Kingdom in the US in 2006, the father of the baby originated from Kenya.

Obama, the first black US president, has an ancestral home in Kenya.

The rhinos are popular with tourists. Some of the proceeds from the fees charged are used for community development.

Genade said there is likely to be a baby boom in the near future. The sanctuary is expecting 12 southern white rhinos from South Africa in November and East African black rhinos from Kenya.

Rhinos are globally endangered because of their valuable horns which are mostly exported to Asia where they are used to make ceremonial dagger handles and traditional medicine.

In Uganda, the last northern white rhino was last seen in 1982 in the Murchison Falls National Park and the last black rhino was seen in the Kidepo park in 1983.

Conservationists formed the Rhino Fund Uganda to bring back the rhinos.