Posted on 22nd September 2020 by Media Relations
Taronga Western Plains Zoo Dubbo is excited to announce on World Rhino Day, Tuesday 22 September, that Black Rhinoceros Bakhita is pregnant and expecting a calf in early 2021.
This will be the fourth calf for experienced mother Bakhita who is so far progressing well through her pregnancy.
“Bakhita’s diet has been increased to satisfy her growing appetite and her abdomen is growing daily. In late 2020 Bakhita will be moved to our behind-the-scenes calving yard to be given time to settle in prior to her expected birthing period,” said Taronga Western Plains Zoo Director, Steve Hinks.
“Black Rhinos are currently listed as critically endangered with recent estimates there are 5,630 Black Rhinos remaining in the wild, so every birth both in zoos and the wild is crucial for their long term survival.”
“This pregnancy is especially important as the offspring will carry the legacy of our Black Rhino breeding bull, Kwanzaa who sadly passed away earlier this year. This will be Kwanzaa’s fourth calf,” said Steve.
Taronga has a long history of supporting rhino conservation with Taronga Western Plains Zoo is internationally renowned for its conservation and breeding programs for the Black Rhino, White Rhino and Greater One-horned Rhino. Taronga has also been involved for the past 20 years conserving Sumatran Rhinos in Indonesia, which are now considered one of the most endangered mammals on earth with less than 80 remaining.
“We have a comprehensive approach to support Sumatran Rhino populations in Way Kambas National Park. This includes co-designing and funding habitat protection and restoration, supporting rhino protection units and providing veterinary and reproductive expertise to the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary,” said Taronga CEO and International Rhino Foundation board member, Cameron Kerr.
“With the help of donors, Taronga has expanded its commitment in Sumatra and continues to support rhino protection units that provide around the clock protection for the remaining populations of rhinos and protect their important habitats. There has been no known poaching of Sumatran Rhinos in the Way Kambas National Park in more than nine years.”
According to the recently released International Rhino Foundation 2020 State of the Rhino report, the global pandemic has seen a reduction in poaching across Africa. Border closures and international travel restrictions have closed trafficking routes to China and Vietnam, the largest black markets for rhino horn. The increased military and police presence at checkpoints at government parks and private reserves have also disrupted local poaching gangs.
“Rhino poaching has almost halved in Africa in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period last year, which is a positive to take from the global pandemic,” said Cameron.
“The impact the global pandemic has had on poaching is evidence that with more robust efforts by governments, poaching can be reduced and allow wild populations of rhinos to steadily increase again,” said Cameron.
“The concern now lies with the impact the global pandemic has had on the tourism industry in rhino range states and the possibility that local communities will turn to poaching as a source of income to ensure secure their livelihoods. Hopefully as international travel restrictions ease tourism can start to flow again into these regions and reduce this risk,” said Cameron.
Taronga actively supports conservation efforts for wild rhinos in Africa, Indonesia and India providing funds and support for anti-poaching and wildlife protection units, habitat protection and restoration, and expertise in veterinary care and reproduction of Rhino.