The amazing moment an Eastern black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis ssp. michaeli) gives birth has been caught on camera at Chester Zoo. Born on Jan 31 at 08:15, the female calf, which keepers have named Fara, is the offspring of 17-year-old Kitani and 15-year-old dad, Sammy.
Sammy’s genes are extremely valuable to the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme for these critically endangered animals.
This 50-second footage shows mum deliver her newborn and the tender first moments as she checks over her calf:
In the wild there are thought to be less than 650 Eastern black rhinos remaining, pushing the species perilously close to extinction. Eastern black rhinos are listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for the conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species™. Numbers in Africa are as a result of a dramatic surge in illegal poaching, fuelled by a global increase in demand for rhino horn to supply the traditional Asian medicine market. The problem is being driven by the astonishing street value of rhino horn, which is currently worth more per gram than gold and cocaine.
Chester Zoo is one of the main organisations fighting for the survival of eastern black rhino and has long supported conservation efforts in the wild to try and protect black rhinos and continues to pump money, and provide expertise, to numerous sanctuaries in Africa.
The Chester Zoo Black Rhino Programme started in 1999, in partnership with Save the Rhino, providing substantial financial support to Kenya Wildlife Service to enable the translocation of 20 black rhinos to wildlife reserves in the Tsavo region of Kenya.
More recently they have also provided support for the rhinos in Chyula Hills National Park and Laikipia District in Kenya and Mkomazi in Tanzania.
Helping to ensure an insurance population exists in the event that black rhino become extinct in the wild; Chester Zoo has been successful in breeding a number of critically endangered black rhinos and plays a vital part in the international breeding programme.
Ground-breaking science by a team at Chester Zoo team has contributed to the zoo’s successful black rhino breeding programme. Zoo researchers have spent several years carefully monitoring the hormone levels of their resident female rhinos in a bid to discover the best time to introduce them to a potential partner. These hormone levels are monitored by analysing rhino dung. Tracking hormones gives an insight into what is going on inside the animals. It can help tell things like whether or not an animal is a seasonal breeder, whether it has reached puberty, whether it’s cycling on a regular basis or not and when the optimum time to introduce a male to a female is, as well as diagnose pregnancies and estimate when an animal will give birth.
(Source: Chester Zoo press release, 02.02.2015)