by Ronald Ssekandi
NAKASONGOLA, Uganda (Xinhua) -- Obama
is the name of a naughty white rhino. Like a teenager, Obama is
discovering himself, throwing up tantrums.
He has just
broken a radio repeater and his care taker, Angie Genade, is
angry at him. But like the love of a mother, Genade understands
the stage Obama is going through.
"He is a very beautiful rhino, a very healthy big boy and has
just started behaving like a big male rhino should be behaving.
He has just found his own territory," Genade told Xinhua in a
"He is just coming into his teens and becoming sexually
mature and starting to look for rhinos to mate with, his
behavior is perfect," she added.
Obama was the first white rhino born in Uganda in 2009 after
close to 30 years of extinction in the east African country.
Obama takes his name from the American President Barrack
The rhino, has an American mother and a Kenyan father, just
like Obama, the president.
The rhino’s father was brought in from Solio Ranch in Kenya
in 2005, while its mother was donated by the Disney Animal
Kingdom in the U.S.
Obama was the first rhino born at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in the
central Ugandan district of Nakasongola, over 170km north of the
The Sanctuary was started by the Rhino Fund in a bid to
restore rhinos in the east African country where they had become
extinct because of decades of war.
In 1978, the country had 200 rhinos but by 1982 poaching and
insecurity cleared them all.
The conservation program started with six rhinos, three male
and three females. Obama was the first to be born.
Since then the number has grown to over 15 rhinos and two
births are due later this month and in January next year.
"What is interesting about these two, they are Ugandan
"Our project has reached a second phase where our own rhinos
that were born in Uganda are now actually producing," she said.
The sanctuary has become a popular tourist stop-over with the
numbers of visitors growing to 13,000 annually from the 400
registered in 2007, according to Genade, who is the director of
Genade argued that the conservation project has showed that
the number of rhinos can be increased provided there is
Over 80 rangers patrol the fence, guard the gates, and
monitor the rhinos 24 hours a day.
The sanctuary management also has a good relation with the
neighboring communities which are allowed to graze on the ranch.
The rhino horns are also microchipped such that if a poacher
is arrested with the horns, the origin of the horn can be traced
"It is really a method of monitoring where rhino horn is
going and whose rhino horn has been confiscated from a poacher,"
Genade argued that although there is increased effort to
conserve rhinos in Africa, the targeted market for rhino horns
must be involved in the efforts.
She said Asia, which is the main market for illicit trade in
rhino horns must be involved in changing cultural beliefs
surrounding the horns.
Rhino horns are reputed to cure diseases and cast out evil
spirits in children besides being regarded as a powerful
Genade said countries can introduce rhino conservation in
their education system whereby children are taught why it is
important to conserve the rhinos.
"If you target the right people now with the right
information and try and break that cultural barrier," she said,
noting that 20 years from now, there will be a big difference.
She said top government officials, corporate companies and
celebrities, who people look up to, can also play a lead role in
urging the population to avoid buying rhino horns.
There are just five main species of rhino left around the world