On the night of February 28, 2021, Nandi one of the female rhinos at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary breathed her last after battling a yet to be identified illness.
Nandi’s health started deteriorating with loss of body weight and reduced activity, which were noticed around August 2020. Her resting, feeding and drinking behaviour were not normal as was known before. By that time, Nandi was expecting her seventh calf. She could therefore, not be handled like any other sick rhino in her condition; a lot of care had to be taken to avoid putting her life and that of the unborn calf in danger.
UWA veterinarians have been at the sanctuary several times to manage every stage of her health condition that included administering antibiotics, de-wormers, and picking of samples for further investigations. Information was also being shared with rhino experts. The first suspicion was that Nandi had intestinal worms and relevant remedies were applied but did not yield fruit. Nandi was safely immobilized by our veterinary doctors on 27th January 2021 for further examination. Samples were picked and tests conducted at Lancet laboratories and the National Animal Disease Diagnostic and Epidemiology Centre.
The results from the serum chemistry done at Lancet Laboratories were shared with Rhino Fund Uganda Management and other stakeholders. To be specific, Nandi presented with low sodium and chloride, low creatinine but normal urea, low bilirubin, elevated Aspartate Amino Transferase (AST) and total protein with very low albumin. The calcium and phosphorus values were within normal range.
Additional haematology tests were done on advice from rhino experts and they indicated no presence of trypanosomiasis, babesiosis, anaplasmosis or theileria parva as suspected by ourselves and other rhino experts.
A post-mortem undertaken on March 01, 2021 by a team of pathologists from Makerere University and Wildlife Veterinarian from UWA. Results show a generalized proliferation and enlargement of all the lymph nodes indicating lymphoproliferative disorder, which may be neoplasm or granulomatous disease. Other significant lesions in advanced stage were observed in the lungs, kidneys and along the gastro intestinal tract (GIT).
A range of samples were taken for histopathology, serology, microbiology and culture to determine the cause of death. Results of the analysis will be communicated to the relevant stakeholders and authorities as soon as they are available.
Nandi, the 21-year old female rhino was born on 24th July 1999. She was brought together with Hassani (a male rhino) to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary from the Disney Animal Kingdom, Florida, USA in September 2006. By the time of her death, Nandi had successfully calved seven times with the latest being on 9th January 2021. She was laid to rest on March 1, 2021 at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary.
On behalf of UWA, the Executive Director relays his appreciation to Rhino Fund Uganda and all the stakeholders who, in one way or the other, contributed ideas in a bid to save Nandi. We hope that we shall continue working together for the better of the remaining Rhino population in Uganda and beyond.
Nandi was donated by Disney's Animal Kingdom in Florida, USA in 2006 at the age of 7 years together with Hassani, a male rhino that was aged 5 years then. This pair was part of the first six white rhinos that were re-introduced in Uganda.
The two together with four other rhinos earlier introduced from Solio Ranch in Kenya started a breeding nucleus that has since evolved to 35 rhinos at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary located 170 km North of Kampala. The death of Nandi and her daughter Achiru leaves the total number of rhinos at the sanctuary to 33 individuals.
Nandi had her first calf named Obama in June 2009 and later Malaika "Angel" the female on June 4, 2011. Both Obama and Malaika were the first rhino calves born in Uganda in more than 30 years since the rhinos were declared extinct in 1982.
Nandi has left another 4 surviving off-springs; Uhuru (8), Sonic (6), Apache (4) and Armiju (2). Her last born Achiru was born at the summit of the mother’s illness earlier this year but died at Uganda Wildlife and Conservation Education Centre (UWEC) on 17 January, 2021 after the mother’s failure to feed her. Of her calves, Malaika and Uhuru
gave birth to three and two calves respectively.
Bashir Hangi, Communications Manager
Tel: 0414-355315, 0772-446115