First rhino born in Uganda after 20 years

A calf has been born among the six rhinos living at the breeding sanctuary in Nakasongola district. This is the first birth of a rhino in Uganda in the last 20 years and brings the total to nine.

The calf is three days old, but the mother is too protective.

So, it is difficult to get close to them to establish its gender, said Angie Genade, the executive director of Rhino Fund Uganda.

The mother, 10-year-old Nandi, is one of the four rhinos that were donated by the Disney Animal Kingdom in the US.
According to Genade, the donation was aimed at helping in the breeding of rhinos at Nakasongola for re-introduction into the country's parks.
She also pointed out that Nandi produced 16 months after conceiving and that this was her first birth.

Rhinos are globally endangered because of their valuable horns. They have two horns; one longer than the other. Poachers export the horns 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 Murchison Falls National Park, while the last black rhino was last was seen in Kidepo in 1983.

According to wildlife officials, the rhinos were killed during the civil unrest that Uganda experienced in the 1970s and early 1980s.

After realising that the rhinos in Uganda had become extinct, conservationists formed the Rhino Fund Uganda, an NGO to bring back the rhinos.

In December 2001 two rhinos were imported from Solio Ranch in Kenya. They are still being kept at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre, formerly known as Entebbe Zoo.

The second phase of re-introducing the rhinos in Uganda was the establishment of a the breeding sanctuary in Nakasongola. The regional population of rhinos stands at 709 with 603 of them living in Kenya and about 100 in Tanzania.

Rwanda has none, while the Democratic Republic of Congo had about 10 in Garamba National Park before the Lord's Resistance Army rebels camped there. Uganda expects to have 16 more rhinos by the end of this year.

According to Justus Tindigarukayo, a commissioner in charge of wildlife, the Sun Park in South Africa has donated 12 rhinos to help bolster the population. They are expected in the country in November this year.

We want to create a stable and ecologically acceptable population structure. It is important to bring more rhinos and particularly females because one male needs to interact with four females, said Tindigarukayo.

The Nakasongola sanctuary has three male and three female rhinos.

A loan of four rhinos from Kenya is also expected by the end of the year.
The Kenyan black rhinos will be brought in for breeding purposes and will be returned to Kenya after sometime, Genade said.