March 2021

Black rhino sisters

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Black rhino sisters

Alex Naert
By Alex Naert
Field Guide

We’d like to introduce you to two black rhino sisters, six year old ‘Gongani’ (left) and her younger three-and-a-half-year-old sister ‘Mababies’ (right).

In 1998, their grandmother ‘Sosigi’ was one of the first black rhinos to be introduced to the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, and she went on to produce seven calves. 

It’s common for black rhino sub-adults to leave their mothers and join up with older siblings when their mother gives birth and cares for a new calf. Often, after a few months they will reunite with their mother and the new addition, but the relationship will be far less dependent. 

Whilst black rhinos aren’t as gregarious as white rhinos, they are a lot more social and ‘complex’ than traditionally believed; with overlapping territories, socialising at waterholes and the younger individuals hanging out and learning from older siblings / aunty figures. 

On a daily basis, the Malilangwe scouts and Wildlife Management Department protect, monitor and interpret the data collected on every individual. Two decades of meticulous records contribute to furthering the global knowledge bank for this incredible species whilst forming the foundation of our science-based rhino management strategy. Ensuring a safe future for Zimbabwe’s rhino legacy. 

By Sarah Clegg & Jennifer Conaghan, photo by Alex Naert.