The first rhino back in Matabeleland North Province in almost 20 years have found themselves a new home at the Imvelo Ngamo Wildlife Sanctuary, bordering Hwange National Park. The Cobras Community Wildlife Protection Unit, as well as community members and school children, have all been waiting for this moment for a long time and there is definitely excitement in the air. The rhinos will need some time to settle into their new environment, and recover from their last two weeks of very unusual “road tripping”. Avoiding getting close to them and making too much noise are very important during the rhinos’ first few days. Community leaders, guests, school children all tip toe and whisper to get a glimpse of the rhinos while vets and ecologists monitor behavior to ensure improved feeding and sleeping rates.
The Malilangwe team are experts in their field and are extremely thorough in the monitoring of their rhino populations; they pass on an incredibly useful repertoire of information to the CRCI team to ensure that, in years to come and as the CRCI rhino numbers continue to grow, they are able to keep an efficient population database.
DNA samples are passed on from the Malilangwe ecologists to the CRCI team.
Thuza and Kusasa
In the weeks prior to the rhinos arriving, several community leaders and members were asked to suggest some names for the two new rhinos. Ten names were put forward, each with different meanings.
The day following the rhinos’ arrival, we were ready to name them. We asked our visiting guests, a group travelling from America that came especially to see the rhino and be part of this momentous event, as well as our friends and network from across the globe to participate (the latter via zoom) in picking the final names of the two rhino through a fundraising auction. Our guests on the ground were quick to snatch up this opportunity and made extremely generous bids towards the names. Eventually Marc and Rochelle Armstrong won a bid to name the larger, 8 year old rhino (no. 803) and chose the name “Thuza” (meaning “to strike” in the local Ndebele language which, according to Chief Matupula who selected the name alludes to the rhino’s powerful position both physically and metaphorically). Tam and Rondell Wilson won the bid to name rhino no.204 and selected the name “Kusasa” (meaning “tomorrow” in the local Ndebele language because , as Headman Vukuzenzele said when he chose the name, the rhino represent a bright future for village children and grandchildren).
As excitement from the rhinos’ arrival died down and visiting experts and guests peeled off, our rhino were able to settle in properly, start to explore their new home and are developing a healthy daily routine of feeding and sleeping. Both Kusasa and Thuza are settling in very well; they are getting more adventurous and curious and are increasingly comfortable with their new surroundings.
It is so incredible for us to finally say, if you visit Camelthorn Lodge or Bomani Tented Lodge, you will now have the opportunity to potentially see the Big5! We are extremely proud of the paradigm shift with our communities taking on being custodians of our two first rhino bulls and we are hopeful and inspired to work on the larger vision and dream to have a much bigger sanctuary with roaming rhino for our guests to visit and spend time with.
Watch this space as we share in the following weeks, guest interactions and more beautiful images of Thuza and Kusasa in their new home.
Contact us for more information on the CRCI project or read more of our blogs here too.