“We do not inherit the world from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” – Native American Proverb.
A very rare occasion today as I write a blog that does not involve leopards! Shocking, I know. But what I will share with you is a sighting so rare I simply couldn’t keep it to myself…
We were sitting with a mother rhino and her two calves who were peacefully grazing in a clearing. The tranquil environment was broken by the sound of two male rhinos fighting nearby. We raced up the crest to the source of the sound and upon arrival we saw the two bulls having a stand off. Rich Laburn was on drive and was in the same area so also came up to see what all the fuss was about. There were two more females grazing nearby and watching the scuffle between the massive males. After feeling like he had won, the bigger of the two males approached the females. He simply strutted over, huffing and puffing, then proceeded to mount the younger of the two females. We were speechless. We stayed with them for roughly an hour in which time the male mounted the female several times. In between the mating sessions the male would charge both the other rhinos present and then return to trail his new-found interest.
Rhino courtship is often not a smooth process and the male may spend up to two weeks trailing a female until she gives in and allows him to mate. During this time the female will charge and chase the male off while making a deep grunting noise. The male by contrast will attempt to keep the female within his territory by blocking her path and making very unmasculine whining sound, similar to the kind of noise a whale would make. If the female is in full oestrus and decides that the male is a good enough candidate she will stand stiff legged, curl up her tail and allow the male to place his head on her rump. He will then mount the female. The mating itself is not a quick process and may last between 15-60 minutes. This may give rise to the myth that rhino horn makes a good aphrodisiac.
Females reach sexual maturity at 6–7 years of age while males reach sexual maturity between 10–12 years of age. Breeding pairs stay together between 5–20 days before they part and go their separate ways. The gestation period of a white rhino is 16 months. A single calf is born and usually weighs between 40 and 65 kg. Calves are unsteady for their first 2 to 3 days of life. When threatened the baby will run in front of the mother, who is very protective of her calf and will fight for it vigorously. Weaning starts at 2 months, but the calf may continue suckling for over 12 months. The birth interval for the white rhino is between 2 and 3 years and before giving birth the mother will chase off her current calf.
Enjoy the following sequence of pictures of the amazing rhino sighting…
Written and Photographed by Nick Kleer.
Video by Rich Laburn.