The birth of a southern white rhino calf at a safari park marks another important step in work to save the species from extinction, according to keepers.
The unnamed female was born at Blair Drummond Safari Park near Stirling on Tuesday evening after an epic 16-month pregnancy.
The 60kg baby is the fifth rhino calf to be born at the park to mother Dot and father Graham, both 16.
Animal collection manager Sheila Walker said: “The birth was very straightforward and the calf was up on its feet and suckling in just over an hour.
“Dot is a great mum and very experienced, having successfully raised four calves previously. She was even giving gentle nudges, encouraging the calf to its feet - but it managed all by itself, albeit a bit wobbly at first.
“We are delighted the calf is a girl and she will be a real treat for our visitors to come and see.”
Southern white rhinos, native to the south of Africa, are currently listed as near-threatened on the IUCN red list of endangered species.
Keepers said poaching continues to be an ongoing problem in Africa, with around 18,000 animals now believed to remain in the wild. Blair Drummond said it is committed to doing its bit to help save the species from extinction.
Ailsa McCormick, head keeper of the park’s large mammals, said: “The calf is of big importance to the endangered species breeding programme, and I’m delighted to oversee Dot and Graham’s continued part in ensuring a strong viable insurance population for southern white rhinos. “This calf is their fifth, and being grandparents at 16 years old, Dot and Graham’s latest calf is a big feather in the cap for the ongoing conservation efforts made by Blair Drummond. “However, as heart warming and delightful that this birth is, it also makes us ever more determined to help their wild counterparts. We’re really pleased this year to be supporting OSCAP (Outraged South African Citizens Against Poaching) and the work they do with rhino orphans, made so by horrific poaching incidents.”
The park said it has been receiving messages from well-wishers after people viewed the birth live via a webcam. Visitors are being encouraged to go and see the new arrival before the park closes at the end of October.