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Rhinos in Uganda and their origin

Back in the 1960s Uganda was home to about 700 white rhinoceros – the name of which finds its origins in the Greek words for ‘rhino’, meaning nose, and ‘ceros’ meaning horn.

These white rhinos aren’t actually white, and neither are black rhinos actually black. The word ‘white’ is merely a mispronunciation by the early English settlers in South Africa of the Dutch word, ‘wyd’, meaning wide. This rhino was described as ‘wyd’ because its lips were wider in comparison to its smaller cousin, the black rhino, which has a prehensile upper lip. Meanwhile, the black rhino got its name from being seen with mud on it, which lent it a darker colour when in actual fact, both rhinos are grey.

two-rhinos-on-path

When Idi Amin took power, and the land was under his dictatorship, the number of rhinos dwindled dramatically. Now there are just a few rhinos left in Uganda. Two can be found in the Entebbe Zoo, and the remainder are under the watchful eyes of the Ugandan Wildlife Authority, who keep tabs on the rhinos in the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, all day every day.

The sanctuary has gone to great measures to ensure that the world’s second largest land mammals are well protected. Three electric fences separate the 7,000 hectares of land from the rest of the world. The fourth boundary is a natural swamp where bird watchers might catch sight of the rare African shoebill and other migratory species.

rhino-and-birds

Rhinos are one of the least researched animals on our planet, but at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, the rangers that protect the animals observe their behaviour. Here are 10 interesting facts that you may not have known about white rhinos:

1. Rhinos are social, similarly to elephants, and have small families called a ‘crash’.

2. A dominant male plays the father and protector (although the calves will never really meet their dad).

3. Like elephants, they mourn the death of a family member.

4. Their skin is three inches thick.

5. They’re short sighted but they have acute hearing and a heightened sense of smell to compensate.

6. Their head is the heaviest part of their body, which is why they only eat short grass.

7. They need to consume up to 150 kilos per day and drink 60 to 80 litres of water in order to sustain their three-tonne weight.

8. A male rhino will mature at 10 years old while a female will take eight years.

9. Their average life span is 45 years and they’ll continue to grow throughout the course of it.

10. In her lifetime, a single female can produce up to 12 offspring, going through a gestation period of 16 months, which is the second longest period for any mammal; elephants have the longest at 22 months.

rhino-in-wild

Ziwa has had quite the success. Ten calves have born (although sadly, one was still-born) and there are five crashes living in the sanctuary alongside bush buck, leopard, honey badgers, armadillos, waterbuck, warthog and vervet monkeys.

Their main challenge (apart from keeping out poachers) is to ensure that the pastoralists that bring their heavily horned cows for grazing don’t bring in disease. Each herdsman must carry a specially issued ID card, which he must present to any ranger who comes across them. And the cows need to leave enough grass for the rhinos.

front-view-rhino

When a calf is born, the mother will separate it from the crash to raise it until it is strong enough. Unfortunately, no matter how strong it becomes, there’s nothing stopping humans – the rhino’s biggest threat – from killing it for its horn.

side-view-rhino

Thought, but never proven, to have medicinal powers such as curing hangovers, cancer and impotency, the biggest market for rhino horns is in Vietnam where a kilo can go for as much as US$65,000. The horns are made from keratin, the same substance that makes our hair and nails, which means that, essentially, a rhino’s horn is just one massive dreadlock.

As with all conservation, Ziwa’s main struggles are funding so if you’d like to help protect one of the most endangered mammals on our planet, visit www.rhinofund.org.

rhino-in-natural-habitat

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Customer Reviews

Ngoni Safaris Uganda

Customer Reviews

Stephany Aug 13, 2019

https://www.safaribookings.com/operator/t17733
Sedrick was unique and stood out from the rest in the high quality communication he provided since the first inquiry. He called me to provide information about the itinerary and see if I had any questions even before booking the tour. We communicated through WhatsApp for any other questions that came to mind after that call. After picking me up from the airport, he and Pilot (additional tour guide) provided plenty of information about the country to give me some context and we started our long drive to the impenetrable forest. The food was delicious with many options; the accommodation was very clean with exceptional service; and the transportation from Entebbe to Bwindi park was very comfortable (although long). As a solo female traveler, both tour guides (Sedrick and Pilot) did an exceptional job at enduring I accomplished everything intended to in Uganda, and always made me feel safe. I highly recommend to book your safari with this company because the quality and professionalism will not let you down.

Shakira Dec 14, 2018

Ngoni safaris uganda is the best tour operator in Uganda. A few weeks back we traveled to Bwindi impenetrable with sedrick to explore the beauty that is Uganda. This company took care of us . with most comfortable car , Great guide .We highly recommend it to the next travelers

Winnie Dec 19, 2018

https://www.safaribookings.com/operator/t17733
I was going on a gorilla safari with my friend and this was going to be the first ever safari for the both of us. Luckily, the communication with the office was super easy and we got answers to all of the questions we needed. The driver / guide (Sedrick) was very professional and funny and made our time very pleasant. Also, he had a proper knowledge of the local area close to the Mgahinga national park and he promptly spoke some 7 languages which we thought was super positive. The safari was surely the highlight of out East African trip!

Ritah Jan 2, 2019

https://www.safaribookings.com/operator/t17733
My Team and I did a five day trip, including Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Murchison Falls and Kidepo. It was truly an incredible experience. Our guide, Sedrick, was knowledgeable, skilled in driving in some challenging settings and just plain fun to hang out with for five days. The lodging was perfect, especially Savannah Lodge. The tents and beds were high quality. The views were spectacular. Meals were delicious and varied. I recommend Ngoni safaris Uganda with all my heart and soul!

Pilot May 28, 2019

https://www.safaribookings.com/operator/t17733
Our six days trip was amazing. The driver/guide had an incredible knowledge of animal and bird-life and are so interesting to talk to. His driving skills through lashing rain and massive puddles was admirable! The cooks managed to produce varied and delicious meals from the kitchen, which we ate both at accommodation or roadside when we were travelling from one place to another . At all times we felt safe and well-looked after. All in all, an incredible experience, due not only to the abundance of wildlife we were lucky enough to see, but also to the great efforts put to have our Safari a better one . The safari was full of fun. Traveling with ngoni safaris is my life time memorable experience and I highly recommend it to travellers who would love to visit uganda or EastAfrica for holidays, vacations or Adventure.. Even five stars are too small .