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Rhino Ear Notching

12 February 2009

Lapalala is renowned for its rhino conservation success. Both black and white rhino are quite at home in Lapalala Wilderness. Rhino populations in the reserve are monitored every day of the year by the reserve’s exceptional team of rangers.

Identifying rhino in the field is made easier with the help of ear notches, each notch pattern unique on every individual rhino. And the next generation of Lapalala’s rhino need to be notched.

But how does one go about performing this task? The rhino first have to be darted and powerful tranquilisers, lethal to humans, are used to subdue these incredible mega herbivores.

Once safe to approach, ear muffs are placed in the rhino’s ear’s and blinds over the eyes, to help reduce the animal’s stress.

Swiftly, the team goes into action. Samples are taken in the form of tissue from the ear, blood and faeces, to determine hormonal and breeding information. The rhino’s breathing is carefully monitored to ensure that the breathing does not drop below 5 breaths per minute.

Once the samples are taken and the overall health of the rhino has been assessed, reversal drugs are given and rhino swiftly recover, none the worse for the experience.

Black and white rhino have differing temperaments – black being more aggressive and dangerous.

The team take care at all time with all the rhino they work on, but have extra respect for black rhino.

A ton of angry rhinocerous is not to be trifled with, and after an aggressive display, this black rhino retreats into the wilds of Lapalala Wilderness.

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