Rhino Bull Killed

A large rhino bull in the central part of the reserve died recently as a result of injuries sustained either during a fight with another bull or through an aggressive interaction with a rhino cow. When rhino bulls fight, which they do fairly regularly over territories, both protagonists invariably leave the field of combat with numerous scratches and wounds.

This unfortunate bull did not carry these tell-tale signs of a territorial clash. Instead, we could only find a single deep puncture wound through the abdomen and we therefore suspect that the bull was killed during an aggressive encounter with a cow.

Territorial bulls can detect when cows are in pre-oestrus and they can form a close attachment with a cow for a considerable time before mating. During this period the bull will take active steps to prevent the cow from leaving his territory, chasing her, squealing and sometimes horn clashing with her until she remains.

Until she is in oestrus, she will actively drive him off, and in this case, we suspect one of the cow’s efforts were too successful and that the bull’s abdomen was punctured while being driven off. The death of the bull is a sad loss indeed but a natural occurrence in the wild.

The bull’s carcass has subsequently been a magnet for all manner of predators and for the first few days the lions absolutely dominated proceedings. Since then, there have been regular sightings of brown hyena on the carcass and we suspect leopard and other smaller carnivores will have scavenged off the carcass as well.

Lourens, our intrepid leopard researcher, has placed one of his trip cameras at the carcass to monitor scavenging activity and a sequence of pictures from this event will be published on the site next month.

These pictures are from a sighting of a brown hyena on the carcass during the middle of the day – a rare and privileged experience indeed!!!