Solio, our hand-raised orphan black rhino, who now lives wild within the Nairobi National Park, has given birth to a baby boy, who's been named Sultan.
We received wonderful news earlier this month, when the KWS Nairobi National Park Rhino Monitoring Team informed us that they had sighted Solio on one of their patrols, on 5th September, with a newborn calf by her side. The picture perfect male calf was just 3 days old at the time - he has been named Sultan.
Solio’s turn at motherhood is incredibly special for her, for us, for Kenya and for our supporters and for black rhinos. As a species, black rhinos’ number only around 5,000 in the wild, with an estimated 745 individuals in Kenya, so every new life is a truly meaningful addition to the population and future of the species.
Moreover, this is special for Solio, because when she was just six months old she was left orphaned, after her mother was fatally wounded in a suspected poaching attack on Solio Ranch in 2010. KWS mounted a rescue and Solio was brought to our Nursery in Nairobi National Park. Extremely feisty from the outset and untrusting of events and her new surroundings, which were very different from her former home, Solio initially refused to let anyone get close to her and it took a little creativity to win her over. In the end, we discovered she loved a good scratch from a brush attached to a stick and, over time, she allowed herself be ‘scratched’ into submission.
Hand-raising black rhinos is an extremely complex process and to see Solio assimilated so successfully into the Nairobi National Park rhino population, is a great triumph for us. Being fiercely territorial animals, black rhinos fight for rank and territory can prove fatal. In the case of Solio, because she was raised within Nairobi Park at our Nursery, and able to take long walks with her Keepers visiting the dung piles and urinals of the resident wild rhinos she slowly came to belong, and as the years passed and she grew in independence she rightly earned her territory within Nairobi National Park’s black rhino community.
Solio becoming a mother is a triumph. At first the focus after rescue was to save her and help her come to terms with the loss of her mother and life at the Nursery, and then our focus shifted to ensuring she could join the local wild rhino population whose security is provided by dedicated KWS rhino security teams. Solio and her little calf, along with all the rhinos of Nairobi National Park, are protected and watched over by the KWS Rhino Monitoring Team and security patrols and we look forward to sharing more news of mother and son over the comings months and years.