Kragga Kamma Game Park’s white rhino cow, Bella, 18, could not resist showing off her new calf, just hours after it took its first steps yesterday.
In fact, it seemed like she welcomed the attention, allowing onlookers and photographers within a few metres of her and her new baby.
Despite still being a little shaky on its slightly oversized feet, and seemingly having no control over its wiggly ears, the calf was far from camera-shy.
Game park co-owner Ayesha Cantor said they had been expecting Bella’s new calf, her fourth at the game park, to come this month, and they were over the moon with the latest addition to their family of white rhinos.
“I got a call from my father-in-law around 1pm and he just told me, ‘I can see ears’,” Cantor said.
“We immediately grabbed our cameras and rushed out to find Bella, and by the time we got there the little one was still struggling to find his feet.”
She said that earlier in the day Bella had chased off some visitors who had come closer to take pictures of her, and she had wondered why the rhino cow was more aggressive than usual.
“She must have been in the middle of labour at the time, which would explain why she was a bit cranky.”
According to Cantor, a rhino’s gestation period is about 16 months and newborn calves usually weigh in the region of 40kg.
The calves stay with their mother for about two years before they start fending for themselves.
Bella’s calf’s sex is still to be determined.
Meanwhile, Bella’s older son Champ, 2, was feeling a bit rejected and paced around letting out little squeaks, similar to a dog whining.
The time had come for him to go out on his own.
His mother huffed at him and, on occasion, even threatened to charge at him.
And so he lay on the opposite side of the thicket, watching his mother and new sibling, before later wandering off disconsolately.
“It seems harsh and we feel very sorry for Champ, but nature needs to take its course,” Cantor said.
The new baby rhino’s father, Chuck, 10, grazed calmly on another section of the park, seemingly oblivious to the birth of his baby.
Cantor said keeping and protecting rhinos had become one of their main concerns since they first introduced them to Kragga Kamma in 2001. All their rhinos have been dehorned.
She said the rhinos were under 24/7 surveillance for security reasons, and that would help them to keep an eye on the health of the new calf.
They are planning to launch a social media campaign, asking the public to help name the baby rhino.
“We see these rhinos as part of the community, so everyone should become involved,” Cantor said.
“We encourage people to come and have a look, take some pictures and help us name the new baby.”
Riaan Marais – The Herald