Ngorongoro — A SQUAD of wildlife rangers escaped death when a big, ferocious rhinoceros charged at them while hunting the animal down in order to anesthetize it for treatment.
The incident occurred within the vast Ngorongoro Crater when the Game Rangers, accompanied by a team of biomedical scientists and veterinary officers from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, were trying to shoot and sedate the Rhino, christened “Chausi,” using a tranquilizing dart gun from a fast moving car.
It took hours to locate the animal because Rhinos are rarely seen in open but when the rangers’ Land-Rover truck drove near the area where the wounded animal happened to be feeding, all hell broke loose.Led by Dr Sayalel Kuya, the head of veterinary services at NCAA, the team wanted to sedate the animal which had just been badly injured from a fierce territorial fight with its own father known as “John.”
“In order to inspect and treat the large wounds on the Rhino’s body, the animal had to be put to sleep so that medical experts could work on it,” explained the NCAA Public Relations Manager, Mr Adam Akyoo.But the task proved to be not only difficult but extremely dangerous because the angry Rhino charged at the rangers’ pick-up truck and despite its injuries, the animal proved to have more speed than the vehicle.
The fact that Rhinos only run in straight line saved the officers’ lives because the driver eventually started moving the vehicle side to side prompting the beast, weighing over 3000 kilogrammes (3tons), to give up the chase.It took several attempts to get near the Rhino before Dr Kuya managed to shoot the syringe from the moving car, causing another but more ferocious attack from the animal but this time the animal’s charge was shortened by the effects of the “Etorphine” tranquilizer from the dart gun.
Aided by the biomedical scientist, Mr Atanas Nyaki and Vetenary Officer, Mr Cosmas Soombe, Dr Nyaki spent more than an hour disinfecting and treating the wounds as well as injecting the animal with varieties of medicinal drugs to aid healing, before giving it another shot, this time to wake it up.
“Rhinos are territorial animals, they hardly venture out of their regular dwellings and this agoraphobic behaviour normally fuels many fights among the species because younger Rhinoceroses try to wrestle power from older ones,” said Dr Nyaki.He noted that in this latest combat, the younger Chausi, aged seven, lost the fight to his father “Mr John”, an old hand who was born in 1978.
The Ngorongoro Crater, a large unbroken caldera within the NCAA, is Tanzania’s most visited tourist destination, attracting an annual traffic of 1.5 million people, among them foreign tourists, researchers, film makers, local visitors and students. Its vast wilderness is home to nearly 30 black Rhinoceros among other wild animals’ species, including wildebeests, elephants, buffaloes, cheetahs, hippos, zebras and lions.
Rhinos are the world’s most endangered wildlife species and Tanzania takes great precautions to ensure their survival. The country is undertaking major projects to replenish Rhinoceros population in local parks and last year five such species were imported from South Africa and released to the Serengeti National Park.