Aw! Endangered rhinos become best of friends

A pair of rhinos living at a Yorkshire wildlife attraction have overcome their rivalry to become best friends

The rhinos playing together
The rhinos playing together

Black rhinos Dayo and Hodari have become inseparable since arriving at Yorkshire Wildlife Park near Doncaster - despite the species normally being solitary.

The critically endangered pair were introduced to the park earlier this year and, after some initial sparring, have settled down to become best buddies.

Dayo and Hodari are often seen running around together and have built up a relationship of mutual respect, despite it being unusual for males to be live on the same reserves.

The rhinos in their reserve

“They have become really close and they tend to stay near each other,” says Britt Jensen, hoof stocks team leader.

“Like any young boys, even the best of friends, they like play fighting but they enjoy using all the wallows for a nice mud bath or spend time grazing in their large reserves. Around midday they can often be seen together in their shelter in the reserve having a well-earned snooze.”

The two-year-old rhinos were introduced to each other at the park’s Into Africa Reserve in June and their behaviour was carefully monitored for signs that they would get along. Unlike white rhinos, black rhinos are solitary in the wild and the rhino reserves at Into Africa were designed with three separate areas so that there were plenty of options if they preferred to be alone.

“Their behaviour towards each other was always positive which encouraged us to look into introducing them to a shared reserve. They gradually spent more and more time together and are now best of friends.

The rhinos in their reserve

“They had to learn to manoeuvre around each other as they would bump into each other, particularly if something spooked them. Now they are aware of each other’s whereabouts and they run together, side by side rather than into each other.”

Dayo and Hodari are each around 800kg and their weight will increase to 1500kg - as heavy as a family estate car - as they mature to their full height of 6ft tall at the shoulder.

The black rhino is a critically endangered species and the population in Africa has declined by 96 per cent, from 65,000 in 1970 to less than 3,000 by 1993 after devastating poaching. Their numbers have recently started to increase and, thanks to conservation projects, reached 5,000 last year.