On our way back north toward Kaabong tomorrow, we plan to do something we've never done before: stop and see the rhinos (and spend the night) at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. We've seen the sign many times but have only ever driven on by. Then, in June, we met the people who founded the sanctuary. They are a whole family of white Africans passionately committed to increasing the number of rhinos in Uganda.
A century ago there were thousands and thousands of white rhinos in Uganda. By the 1960s, only about sixty were left. In 1982, the very last white rhino was slaughtered for its horns. But thanks to this family and those who work with and support them, the rhinos are making a slow and steady come-back. The family is now looking for a new place further north to serve as a future sanctuary for black rhinos. We may have this new sanctuary quite close to Ikland!
Both white and black rhinos are indigenous to Uganda. Contrary to popular belief, both kinds of rhino are basically the same color. 'White' rhino is actually a misnomer, as the name comes from the Afrikaans word weit which means 'wide' not 'white'. The mouth of the so-called white rhino is much wider than that of its black counterpart. The white rhino grazes on grass, while the black rhino, with its narrow, almost beak-like snout, browses bushes and trees.
So much of Uganda's glorious wildlife was decimated during the long, terrible years of civil war. Now that there's been peace for some years, the animals are wasting no time multiplying. The plight of the rhino is special, though, as their horns still fetch ungodly sums of money on the black market. Some Asian cultures belief rhino horn to be a powerful aphrodisiac and pay thousands of dollars to acquire it. This belief has been debunked scientifically, but the myth persists, prompting the widespread butchery of these unique, prehistoric beasts.
We are happy to support the welfare of the rhinos by supporting the Rhino Sanctuary. Please drop by the website and see for yourself!