Each year, Map Ives – national rhino coordinator of Botswana –must make sure that the rhinos’ new home in the Okavango Delta is able to fulfil all of their nutritional needs. He takes into account the amount of rain experienced during the wet season and the anticipated level of the seasonal floods.
In late February, the end of the rainy season, he assesses the food that will be available to the rhinos in the reintroduction area. He considers the vegetation type, density and distribution, and keeps an eye out for the rhinos’ preferred plant species, such as acacias.
Most importantly, he predicts what the availability of these key plants will be like during September and October. The dry months are difficult for rhinos. The floodwaters are receding, rainfall is low, the sun is scorching and even the ground is hot.
Browse and graze are in low supply, so the rhinos will inevitably lose condition. He has to be sure that, by then, the animals will be carrying enough weight to endure, and will be able to find sufficient food to cope until the water returns.
Due to its high biodiversity, the Okavango Delta invariably has plenty of food available, even during the toughest months, so the rhinos should be happy and healthy all year round.