NAIROBI PARK DIARY

Mother and calf

Rhino from the park have also been translocated to other national parks.

In Summary

• They are considerably larger but more placid than the moody and often aggressive black rhino

White rhino and baby
White rhino and baby
Image: GARETH JONES

It is always a thrill to see rhino in the wild. Just recently, I entered the park early on weekend afternoon and was rewarded. I saw a black rhino with a calf crossing the tar road after emerging from the thick bush in the forest.

What a special moment as I watched them move away over the grasslands.

White rhino are different from black rhino in a number of ways. Firstly, white rhino are considerably larger but more placid than the moody and often aggressive black rhino. White rhino are grass grazers, while black rhino eat off scrubs and plants.

There is absolutely no colour difference in the two sub-species, they are both grey. Their colour appears at times to vary. Depending on whatever mud and sand type is in the area they live in, they can either be reddish, brownish, yellowish or whitish at times, all because of the soil on their skin.

The white rhino gets its name from the Dutch (Afrikaans): “Wyd”, meaning wide, due to their square mouths designed for grazing. It appears that the English translators did not hear correctly and perhaps thought the Dutch settlers said “white”. The black rhino is just named the opposite colour of white. They have cleft lips designed for eating leaves from bushes.

It is such a privilege to actually be able to see wild rhino so close to a major mega city. Nairobi National Park is extremely unique as a safe haven for sensitive species like rhino.

It is very special to see a mother with a baby. The gestation period is about 16 months before the birth of mostly single calves. The park has a healthy population of black rhino and more recently, over the past 11 years also, white rhino.

Rhino from the park have also been translocated to other national parks.