In the last issue we wrote about the rhino, Ore, that roams the area around Mooiplaas and mistook a dead hippo for a possible mate. Ore arrived at Kruger from Hluhluwe-Umfolozi (KwaZulu-Natal) as one of the older bulls that did not get sold at an auction.
He was one of two and was joined by Klokkies when they were brought to the Skukuza bomas where they were held for tuberculosis (TB) research purposes.
TB has never been diagnosed in rhinos from Kruger, and the project team wanted to inject the rhinos with a vaccination that would simulate a TB immune response. The main reason for this is to develop a test to detect the difference between TB positive and negative rhinos.
Working with habituated boma animals is easier than working with wild animals as you don't need to dart and immobilise them every time you need to take a blood sample.
Ore became so used to having blood samples taken from his ear, he would stand next to the boma fence while nibbling on his favourite lucerne while the veterinarians took the blood samples. He was not stressed by the procedure at all. Blood samples were taken every month. The test development was successful, thanks to the patience of the rhinos.
The study was conducted over a two-year period and then both rhinos were released into the bigger black rhino boma which is set up to be semi-free-ranging. Klokkies and Ore were good friends when they lived in separate bomas, although they were next to each other and they could see and sniff each other through the boma fence.
The situation changed when they were put together in the free-range camp. They began to fight and Klokkies eventually broke out and escaped from the camp. He now lives near Lion Sands Tinga Lodge and is occasionally seen by the guests. Ore was moved to the Mooiplaas section last year and because he was so used to humans, was often seen at the living quarters of the section.
He was in the boma for about three years and became very habituated during this time. He was a valuable animal for educational purposes as he would stand at the boma fence and loved to be scratched behind the ears. Everyone found it wonderful to touch both Klokkies and Ore. Seeing a rhino close-up is a great experience.
By Dr Lin-Mari de Klerk-Lorist