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Meet Mbizhi!

Beautiful Mbizhi, June 1998

Mbizhi is a baby black rhino, born around the last week of June, 1997. She was born in the wild, by the Bizhi River in Matusadona National Park, Zimbabwe (hence, her name!) Unfortunately, however, her mother Chigwada was unable to take adequate care of her. You see, Chigwada was caught in a poacher's snare several years ago and still carries a large wound on her head and neck. Chigwada was unable to produce enough milk for her baby, or to focus her full attention on taking care of her. Mbizhi, who was already losing condition, was therefore captured when she was about 3 weeks old and is now being hand-raised by humans at Matusadona National Park, with her rhino friends Mugofu, Kiplings, and Cleopatra. Chigwada is currently in captivity while her head wound is being treated. It is unknown whether the wound will ever heal.

~~July, 1998

Hand-raised baby black rhinos like Mbizhi at Matusadona National Park (an Intensive Protection Zone area) near Kariba lead fulfilling lives of eating, sleeping, drinking, playing, and mud-bathing. Since our goal is to release the rhinos into the wild at 3 1/2 years of age, they need to become accustomed to the bush at an early age and be familiar with the different types of browse and microhabitats available.

A typical day starts at around 6:30am, when the rhinos are let out of their boma and receive cubes. They then have a short time to browse on nearby vegetation, before those under 21 months of age (weaning age) receive milk at around 7:30am. The milk is given in bottles fitted with rubber cattle teats, inside a cattle scale so that their weights may be measured at the same time. Those individuals over 21 months of age are also weighed in the scale (although sometimes it's quite a feat to coax them into the scale when milk is not involved!).

After milk and weighing, the rhinos start their day in the bush, which consists mostly of browsing on a variety of plant species. They are led through the bush by at least one rhino minder and an armed scout, and their path is slightly different from that of the day before, so that they are exposed to different areas of the bush. At around noon is usually when naptime occurs for 1 to 2 hours until afternoon milk time. Then browsing continues, and there is time for drinking water and taking a mud bath at the lake, and even playing together until the time comes to return to the boma. At the boma they receive cubes and evening milk before being let into the boma for the night, where fresh-cut browse and water are available... and they can sleep for a few hours before a new day begins.

Matusadona National Park is used for wildlife safaris by commercial tourist companies based on lakeside and island camps, such as Kipling's, Matusadona Water Lodge, Musango, Spurwing, and others. It also has campsites available for individuals and families at Tashinga (the Park's headquarters), Ume, and Umbabala. Those staying at the campsite may request nature walks led by one of the Park's knowledgeable scouts; your guide will be happy to show you the baby rhinos at Tashinga!

Tashinga Photos Other Rhino Links Help the Rhinos!

Here is the 5-day weather forecast for Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe. Unfortunately, an online weather forecast is not yet available for the region of Kariba, which is where the rhinos of Matusadona National Park live. Kariba is warmer than Harare during all parts of the year. The rain season occurs approximately mid-November to February. If you go to Zimbabwe, I guarantee you'll love it! There's something for everyone! Just don't forget to say hi to the rhinos....

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