Biwa Rhinoceros Sanctuary – April 16, 2011

Larry drove Joanne, Jim, and I there; even though Joanne and Jim 
weren't going to partake of the rhino experience, Biwa was on the 
way to Murchison Falls where we were all going, so we all went 
together. We saw lots of wildlife just getting to the main office, 
including monkeys, many birds, and bushbuck deer with the pretty 
pattern on their backs. 
There are no fences here, and I signed my life away, 
agreeing that I might die, and I should run up a tree if charged 
by the rhinos, and not to hold the preserve liable. This tends to 
make you think about just how big these creatures are, and how you 
might not want to do something silly just for a sound or picture. 
Larry and I went on with the guide, who was dressed in a full 
uniform and carrying a long gun, down the rough road in the safari 
vehicle to the pond where the rhinos drink, and near there three 
of them were munching grash, Bella, Hassan, and the 1.5 year old 
baby Augustus. We spent quite a while, and I photographed and 
recorded their sounds. They are fairly quite sounds, but they did 
make some munching and footstep sounds, and a highlight was when 
Augustus wanted to nurse and made a high pitched sound to the 
mother. I didn't feel like enraging them so they would make 
fighting sounds! Another highlight, with a fear factor, was when 
Augustus seemed kind of interested in us and walked toward us, and 
Bella got protective and came close enough, maybe 30 yards, to 
make us back up and move toward the truck. We had to speak very 
softly so as not to disturb the animals, and the guide had a very 
pleasant softspoken Uganda-accented English as he gave me many 
details about the rhinos and the preserve. The reserve has existed 
since 2004, and the first five years were devoted to building a 
wall around the edge to protect the rhinos from poachers. In 2009 
they received two rhinos from the U.S., and after that at least 
one from Kenya. All the native Ugandan rhinos had been killed by 
poachers, and often quite horribly. They now have 9 at at least 
two have been born 
there, Augustus and Obama. The babies gestate for 1.5 years and 
nurse for 2-3 years. They have a family unit that stays together. 
Since there are more males than females in the preserve, they will 
be getting 12 more rhinos from South Africa soon. Periodically 
frogs by the pond would let out a chorus of low sounds with many 
rhythms which I also recorded, along with bird sounds. 

Back by the office there were some caged blue and orange parrots 
(I think) and some weaver birds around a cluster of nests, more to 
record. They hang upside down and build neat round nests in that 
hang down from the branches.
I also went into the pen to see the baby bushbuck orphans, which 
are kept there, if their parents had been killed, until they can be 
released into the wild. 

On the way out we gave a ride to a very articulate ranger who told 
us more about the rhinos and area, including the name of the 
gilded guinea fowl we kept seeing, a bird that looked like a big 
dark colored rooster with a blue crest on its head. 
After the preserve we drove to the De Venue Hotel, which was quite
nice, and had dinner outside.

About marahelmuth

Composer / researcher specializing in computer music, professor at CCM, at the University of Cincinnati. Embarking on a trip to Uganda April 13, 2011. I will be working with Teach and Tour Sojourners, who arrange tours in the parks and reserves and lectures at universities. On the tours I'll be recording wildlife sound and video, to be used in future compositions.
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