This was a very notable month for Apollo, as he decided it was time to make some changes in his nighttime setup. For his first year and a half in our care, our little rhino loved his cozy stable. In fact, he habitually made his accommodations even cozier by pitching his mattress over him like a tent!. That all changed in March — and he made his wishes very clear. Apollo began banging on his stable door most nights, protesting his sleeping arrangements and causing quite a ruckus in the process.
Of course, we took Apollo’s requests to heart and quickly arranged a new bedroom. He was moved into one of the open stockades, which offers the space he so clearly desires. This stockade is still within our compound, with a roof overhead to shield him from the elements and surrounded by an electric fence to protect him from lions at night.
Normally, rhinos don’t take well to change, as they are all about their familiar territory. However, we prepared for the move by transferring his dung into his new stockade. In the wild, rhinos establish their territory through dung middens, and urinals, so this enabled Apollo to feel comfortable and he embraced his new accommodation from the outset and seemed much happier. Because he is still very much a baby, a Keeper continues to bunk up with him at night. When his Keeper is not with him, he leaves behind his dust jacket, and this familiar scent soothes the little rhino.
The beginning of March was absolutely scorching, so all of Apollo’s action took place in the cooler mornings and evenings. During the day, his Keepers would escort him to the Mtito lugga, where he could bask in the shade of the acacia and tamarind trees, or rest in the soft river sand.
Over the course of the month, several wild encounters kept everyone on their toes. They came across elephants on a near-daily basis, but all parties know to keep their distance. One afternoon, Apollo insisted on charging a small pack of wild dogs and then shot off after them. We immediately scrambled a plane to locate the wayward rhino and, much to the pilot’s relief, Apollo was immediately spotted, ambling back down a path towards his waiting Keepers. Another day, a buffalo spooked the entire group. Apollo again took off, but soon returned of his own accord. He always knows exactly where he is going and where his Keepers are standing.
Apollo is the only rhino among an eclectic group of orphans at our Kaluku HQ, including elephants, buffalo, eland, kudu, oryx, ostrich, and even a squirrel! There are also some resident wildlife who have become rather tame, including a herd of zebras who established their home on the airstrip. Apollo enjoys walking with them on the airstrip, or checking in on the wild impalas and waterbucks who are equally comfortable in his presence. Like all rhinos, however, Apollo is most content with his own company.
Towards the end of the month, huge clouds began to build. Amidst the searing temperatures, all the wilting wildlife and humans alike prayed for rain. Happily, our wishes were granted when the clouds finally broke and rain drenched the land. Overnight, Apollo grew a pep in his step, and rounded out March dancing in the puddles and wiggling in the mud.
Watch: Apollo fraternising with some of Kaluku’s other orphans