Rhinos in the landscape

Nsikazi volunteers rescue fallen rhino bull

As reported in the Laevelder, 11 October 2011

There was much consternation on Sunday at a small holding that borders on the Likweti private nature when two rhino bulls fought so viciously that one of them ended up in a garbage pit.

A wildlife vet (Dr Cobus Raath) had to be called in to dart the animal and with the help of a crane, lift him out of the rubbish pit. The furore began at about 8:00 on the farm named Vera Lynn, which is above the Primkop Dam. Mr Koos Steenkamp was busy pottering around outside his house when he noticed two rhino bulls close to the electric fence line separating his property from the Likweti private nature reserve sizing each other up.

“We regularly see rhinos close to the fenceline” he said. Without warning the bulls suddenly charged each other, and began to fight viciously. It was like watching scenes from a WWE wrestling match on TV. So intent were they on each other and the battle that they smashed through the electric fencing and continued the battle in Mr Steenkamps front yard. The dogs in the yard, five of them, surrounded and barked at the rhinos but they paid the hounds no attention. In their struggles they snapped, with ease, a thick linked chain with a massive lock on it, and moved slowly towards the back of Mr Steenkamps house.

The bulls kept on pushing and charging each other, with the smaller of the two bulls being pushed off a bank and into a rubbish pit. The larger of the two bulls, who clearly had the upper hand, still attempted to reach his opponent, the fallen bull, even when in the ditch. Mr Steenkamp ended up using his tractor to chase the attacking bull off.

“The larger of the two bulls, who clearly had the upper hand, still attempted to reach his opponent, the fallen bull, even when in the ditch.”

The poor stricken animal, now on his side and wedged in the rubbish pit, tried repeatedly, but in vain to get to his feet. Mr Steenkamp, taking stock of the situation, informed the staff at Likweti, and called out Dr Cobus Raath. The bull was first darted in the rump, and once he was unconscious his eyes were blindfolded and various harnesses were fastened around his feet and legs. He was then lifted out of the pit by a crane. Once out of the ditch he was relocated to Likweti.

Dr Raath estimated that the bull had been trapped in the rubbish pit for approximately 90mins, and that the animal had experienced considerable trauma during its ordeal. “He looks fine to the eye now, but he could possibly develop problems, including kidney problems, in the future,” Dr Raath warned. Even though both bulls had been de horned prior to the fight the smaller animal still sustained numerous cuts and abrasions. The larger bull also had to be darted before being relocated back to Likweti.

Nicole Smalman