Eric was released into the larger Rhino Intensive Protection Zone nearly three months ago and he has been making great progress in his naturalization to the surrounding environment. We are now weeks away from cutting back on supplementary feeding in preparation for his and Laikipia’s release as a free-ranging rhino.
Eric and Laikipia have now been seen together on numerous occasions. While we have not actually spotted them mating, rhino supervisor Dickson has noted recently that there have been a lot of scuffled footprints and broken bushes leading to us hope that there may be a new arrival in the future.
If Eric and Laikipia have bred successfully it would still be another 16 months before a calf is produced. By the time a calf is born we expect for Eric and Laikipia to be free-ranging rhino, along with a larger satellite population of re-established rhino that are expected to be translocated in the future.
Signs that he is adjusting well includes things like developing a symbiotic relationship with the oxpeckers, who feed on ticks living on rhino and feeding well on indigenous browse. However, Eric is still becoming “wild” and does not completely associate humans with a negative threat, but with less human presence around him we believe this process will continue in the right direction and upon his release into the wider Serengeti ecosystem he will be well equipped to fend for himself.
This black rhino re-establishment project here at Grumeti relies on a vast number of collaborations. We are so grateful to the team of donors, vets, governments, NGO’s, logistics personnel and other partners such as the San Diego Zoo and The Aspinall Foundation who have gifted the Grumeti Fund rhino to make the first phases of this project possible. We aim to complete more translocations like Eric’s in the future. Imagining free-ranging black rhino in Grumeti, contributing to the number and genetic diversity of the rhino in the greater Serengeti ecosystem, is a sight that we are committed and excited to see.
This week the Grumeti Fund has a team, Riding for Rhinos, completing the K2N (Kilimanjaro to Ngorongoro) mountain bike race in support of Grumeti Fund’s Black Rhino Re-establishment Project! Check our instagram page to see how they are getting on and click here to make a donation to help bring black rhino back to the Serengeti.