Because some people still believe that a rhinoceros' horn has medicinal properties, rhinos are still often hunted by poachers. At the turn of the previous century, there were only tens of white rhinos left. Thanks to good protection, the number in South Africa has now gone back up to 11,000 rhinoceros. In a lot of other habitats their numbers are still decreasing. Specially trained people are trying to prevent the poaching.
Already over twenty births
Since 1972, when the first animals came to the safari park, over twenty rhinoceros have been born. With this high number, the park is making a valuable contribution to the European breeding programme. After a gestation period of around one and a half years, a calf is born. A young rhinoceros usually stays with its mother for 2 to 3 years. Often until another calf is born. Rhinoceros are fully grown at around 5 years old.
When a bull rhinoceros is around ten year old, he tries to mark out his own territory. He does this with dung and by spraying urine. He lays piles of dung around the edges of his territory. After he has thrown his excrement onto one of these piles, he make scraping movements with his back feet. By doing this, his feet become smeared with dung. Even walking around he leaves a scent that can be recognised by others.
If a bull smells in a female's urine that she is fertile, he will try to approach her. If he can get close enough to make physical contact, he will lie his head on her rear. Then he will try to mount her. It can sometimes take up to twenty hours before a cow will allow the bull to mate with her. This takes around thirty minutes. After a few days, the relationship is over and they go their separate ways.