A baby southern white rhino has been born at Sharjah Safari as part of a breeding program to protect endangered species at threat from extinction.
The white rhinoceros species is classified as “near threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to horn poaching and habitat loss.
The baby rhino, yet to be named, was welcomed into the world on Sunday, with Sharjah Safari posting images on social media of the rhino calf nestled next to his mother.
While Sharjah Safari is not yet open to the public, it has already embarked on a conservation program, supported by the UN, that focuses on African native species.
“There were many challenges in breeding this species. They are used to living in open landscape space in the savannahs,” said Hana al-Suwaidi, chief of Sharjah’s Environment and Protected Areas Authority.
“They prefer humid environments because their skin is very dry. It was a big challenge to create the adequate environment and breed it here in Sharjah.
“Thankfully, the species found themselves in safe environment in the safari and the breeding worked,” she said in an interview shared on Instagram.
The baby rhino joins five white southern white rhinos in Sharjah Safari – three female and two male.
“The white rhino was born 10 days earlier than expected, but it is in good health and nursing with its mother,” said al-Suwaidi.
The sex of the animal cannot be detected yet, she said, because vets don’t interfere with the nursing process in the initial weeks after a baby rhino is born.
However, vets at the zoo think it most likely a baby girl.
Sharjah Safari is being developed by Sharjah Investment and Development Authority in partnership with the Environment and Protected Areas Authority.
The vast park, slated to be the biggest of its kind outside of Africa, is expected to open later this year or in early 2022.
Once open, the safari park will house hundreds of different animals including giraffes, turtles, crocodiles, pythons, flamingos, and other large reptiles, bords and wild animals.