New rhino arrives at the zoo
48 hours after the transfer of Renette (our female white rhino born in 2012) to Schmiding Zoo in Austria, a female of the same age named Nala travelled in the opposite direction. This exchange is part of a recommendation from the white rhino European Breeding Program that manages slightly more than 300 individuals distributed in 78 zoological institutions.
Our rhino group now includes one male (Christian), our old female Noelle (with low breeding potential considering her advanced age) and Nala.
Nala’s unload went without any difficulty even if she had to step outside the crate backwards because the swing doors didn’t allow to go out from the front. The tension between the two females (who have adjoining indoor facilities) was palpable when Nala entered the building for the first time but very quickly the excitement settled down and the first positive contacts were observed after only a few minutes.
The situation of rhinos in the wild is alarming. These last few years, poaching has dramatically increased: 1,338 animals were killed across Africa in 2015, the highest number in two decades. South Africa, who has the largest population of rhinos and the highest rhino poaching level, remains the first country source of the illegal horn trade. These horns are sent to Asia where they are used for their so-called medicinal properties and for making luxury products. Considerable resources are now deployed to try stopping this unprecedented crisis that jeopardizes conservation efforts undertaken over the past twenty years: anti-poaching patrols, translocations, dehorning, law enforcement and tougher penalties against poachers, community conservation and environmental education programs… By funding the protection of wild rhinos and by ensuring the sustainability of rhino populations under their care, zoos play a major role in rhinos long-term conservation.
Before being introduced to her two new counterparts and hopefully putting again La Palmyre Zoo’s rhinos in a breeding situation, Nala must first become familiar with the outdoor enclosure and other species (zebra and oryx) mixed in it. As rhinos are usually aggressive during introductions, we will therefore proceed very gradually in the coming weeks.