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.
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