Pregnant rhino Thandi grazing with wildebeest at Kariega Game Reserve
These photos of Thandi were taken recently by Kariega Game Reserve operations manager Jason Loest. Thandi's horns were hacked off by poachers in March 2012. She has shown incredible bravery and an amazing will to survive to become a beacon of hope in the fight against rhino poaching.
Thandi is pregnant and is expected to give birth sometime around December 2014. White rhino females reproduce every two and a half to five years. They give birth to a single calf which lives with them until it is about three years old.
Rhinos are key species in African grassland ecosystems
Thandi is pictured here grazing on grass with a herd of wildebeest. A recent study published by South African and Scandinavian researchers in the Journal of Ecology shows that rhinos are a key species in maintaining the diversity of African grasslands. According to the authors, "rhinos selectively browse on certain grass species, which leaves room for others that otherwise could not compete to move in and promotes a diverse mosaic of edible plants."
Rhinos are one of the few megaherbivores (plant-eaters that weigh more than 900 kilograms or 2,000 pounds) still alive. Recently their numbers have been dramatically reduced with the increase of poaching. Poachers killed over 1,000 rhinos in South Africa during 2013 and 376 have been reportedly killed by poachers this year. This research gives us another reason that we simply cannot allow them to become extinct.