Picture blog: Coming full circle – From capture to release | WWF South Africa

Picture blog: Coming full circle – From capture to release



Posted on 19 October 2017
Eye of the beholder: A black rhino cow waits for her turn to be released into her new home.
© Melissa du Preez/WWF-SA
Being charged by two frustrated black rhinos while WWF CEO Dr Morné du Plessis yells at me to hold on, a drowsy rhino dragging a dozen grown men through the bush before finally being calmed, another two embroiled in a kerfuffle before chasing off a white rhino (twice its size!) that happened upon the site - the first few hours of my day.

In contrast to their capture, today is a blazer with little to no shade. We’re releasing some of the rhinos captured as part of the WWF Black Rhino Range Expansion Project (BRREP) – I had to be there to see the story through and what started as a day of observation quickly turned into an adventure.

This journey is the 11th black rhino population of the project with this being the first relocation of BRREP-specific rhinos – no small accomplishment!

Join me for a visual journey of their tale: 




As the crate doors are open, the sedated black rhino stumbles forward. 


As the rhino lurches forward, ground crew work to lay her down so that she can be notched, collared and given a health check. 


As soon as she’s down, she falls into a sedated sleep.


An ankle collar is attached to keep track of her movements and make sure she’s safe. 


BRREP coordinator Ursina Rusch and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife vet Rowan Leeming administer the antidote before we dash to safety while the rhino wakes up. 




Of course, nothing always goes according to plan, like getting too close for comfort for the groggy rhino, causing a bull to charge...


Or a white rhino happening upon the waking black rhinos, flaring tempers. 

Best moments:
  • Being charged by two black rhinos while filming from the back of a car as the CEO sits in the front seat
  • Learning to monitor a rhino’s condition by counting the amount of times it breathes on my hand per minute – it should be four
  • Spotting two male lions 50 metres from the first site and hoping they won’t get curious about what we’re up to

Eye of the beholder: A cow waits for her turn to be released into her new home. 


BRREP head, Dr Jacques Flamand in high spirits as he completes the release.
  • Images by Melissa du Preez/WWF-SA

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Eye of the beholder: A black rhino cow waits for her turn to be released into her new home.
© Melissa du Preez/WWF-SA Enlarge