An exceptional story of one rhino highlights one of the best examples of compassionate conservation. Munu is a rare and endangered subspecies of Black Rhino – he is a Desert rhino, and furthermore he faces the challenge of being blind. Munu was blinded in the wild through territorial fighting with other male rhinos. If left in the wild, his fate would not be promising. This is where conservationists stepped in to make an unorthodox decision not to let nature takes its course for Munu.
Being a desert-adapted rhino, Munu is one of only a few of his type remaining, and at his age he is still able to successfully father new babies. The decision was made out of an extraordinary collaboration between stakeholders, including SANPARKS (South African National Parks), our parent company the Mantis Collection and The White Lion Foundation, for Munu to be rehomed at a purpose built sanctuary. His new “forever home” is located at Mantis Founders Lodge in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa.
The Eastern Cape is in stark contrast to the normal region of these rhinos. The natural home range for desert-adapted rhinos is in the northwest of Namibia, also home to our Desert Elephant project. This region represents an arid environment with low rainfall and temperatures ranging from zero to over 40° Celsius. These rhino are adapted to survive in these harsh conditions, and are the largest truly free-ranging population of Black Rhino in the world.
The Eastern Cape region’s dominant vegetation type is known as Albany Thicket – quite different to the vegetation in Munu’s natural home range. However, it is perfect for Black Rhinos, as they love to browse leaves off trees, and one of the flagship plants in this Thicket vegetation is “Spekboom”, a firm favourite for Black Rhinos – and Munu couldn’t agree more!
In time, the plan is to introduce a suitable female rhino to Munu in the hopes that they will breed, with any resulting offspring being donated to SANPARKS. This will support their efforts in preserving Munu’s rare kind.
Munu has taken so well to his caregiver, Derek who ensures that Munu’s every need, from being fed and watered to having a clean enclosure, is taken care of. In July 2020, we are offering an amazing conservation experience in partnership with the Shannon Elizabeth Foundation, where participants will meet Munu the Rhino, and assist with his care. The experience will be hosted by Shannon Elizabeth herself, and will entail a broad range of conservation activities and workshops. To find out more about this experience, click here.