In the early morning of 22 March, a four-and-a-half-year-year old rhino called Nyanyale was seen in the Rhino Sanctuary in Liwonde National Park with a three-strand wire noose wrapped tightly around his face. The snare wire was restraining his upper lip and also affecting his nostril cavities.
Fortunately his VHF transmitter was working well, and locating the rhino to remove the snare was not expected to be a problem. As usual, despite his busy schedule, Mr Derek Macpherson responded to the emergency call to help the rhino. The rhino was located and darted, but in this instance the anaesthetic did not take effect for one of several possible reasons. The small team was also unable to track the rhino’s spoor and after some hours the rescue operation had to be postponed.
A few days later, and with a larger team, Nyanyale was found relatively easily again. Very thick vegetation and the increasingly alert behaviour of the rhino made the darting and rescue operation very difficult and it was only on 6 April that Dr Amanda Selb darted Nyanyale in semi-open mopane woodland and the snare was removed: a happy ending to what could have been another tragic loss of a greatly endangered species.
Since December 2013 there have been monthly calls to attend to emergency situations involving snared black rhino and we believe that it is essential that Liwonde National Park Rhino Sanctuary receives heightened law enforcement surveillance as soon as possible, including extended patrols, snare sweeps and strategically planned ambush attacks to intercept illegal activities in this supremely important wildlife zone.
Thanks to the Malawi Department of National Parks and Wildlife, Wilderness Safaris staff, Dr Amanda Selb, Mr Derek Macpherson and all those who assisted with this rescue operation including Krisztián Gyöngyi, Wilderness Safaris’ Rhino Monitoring and Research Ecologist.