NAIROBI PARK DIARY

The big babies

Weaning starts at two months, but the calf may continue suckling for over 12 months

In Summary

• Baby rhinos gestate for 16 months and weigh up to 65kg at birth

White rhino and calf
White rhino and calf
Image: GARETH JONES

As we drove around a bend, a female white rhino and her calf were quite close to the road. We stopped and observed them for a while in complete silence, so the rhinos seemed to relax.

While ‘mom’ continued to feed on the lush green grass, the little baby was quite quizzy and wandered towards our vehicle, and then suddenly lost the bravado and ran back to the relative safety behind 'mom'.

After some time, we were treated to the calf suckling a midday milky meal. Soon after that, both 'mom' and baby lay down peacefully in the long grass and fell asleep, no doubt lulled into dozing by the warmth of the sun breaking through the clouds.

 

Females reach sexual maturity at six–seven years of age. The gestation period of a white rhino is 16 months. Wow! Sixteen months is a very long time to spend developing inside 'mom'!

And just a single calf is born, usually weighing between 40 and 65kg. These big babies will eventually weigh over 2 tons if they are males. When threatened, the baby will run in front of their protective 'mom', who will vigorously fight for the baby.

Weaning starts at two months, but the calf may continue suckling for over 12 months. Before giving birth, the mother will ensure her current calf is no longer dependent on her.

If you are looking to “escape the maddening crowd”, then the Nairobi Park is such a place. Awake early, drive slowly, relax and let nature come to you. Take time to sit and watch species like white rhino.

I hope and pray that future generations will have the awesome privilege to also observe rhinos in the wild, and maybe also watch the big babies in the wild.

For more information on the park you can link to the following website  www.kws.go.ke