Today we went to the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, which is about 1 hour outside of Masindi towards Kampala. The Rhino’s there are called White Rhinos but not because of their color. The animals are actually grey and the name is really describing their “wide” mouths. When they were originally named, the pronunciation of “wide” sounded like “white”, hence the name. Rhino’s are no longer living in the wild in Uganda due to poaching which led to extinction during the reign of Idi Amin. This sanctuary is building a herd, which can eventually be released in Murchison Falls National Park so they once again can inhabit their native land. When it says we are going to go Rhino “trekking”, they aren’t kidding. Following a guide, we hiked into the bush for about 30min or so through lots of swampy areas. For this reason we had to put on wader boots prior to the hike (notice the attractive footwear in the picture of the students). This made it just a tad more challenging to navigate the uneven ground in the wetland areas. In addition, the sun was bright and hot so we were all drenched in sweat by the time we found the Rhinos. But, the site was amazing once we got there and saw the small family of about 4 (maybe 5). We are eagerly took lots of pictures while these enormous animals rested peacefully in the shade. Eventually a couple got up and moved around so we were able to get some standing pictures.
Besides the Rhinos, the area was filled with many birds. The Weaver Bird in the pictures below makes these really interesting round nests that hang from the trees. The birds enter from below and often just hover there passing grass or food up to the birds inside the nest.
We finished up the day with a delicious meal in the restaurant. Most of us ordered the chicken (we placed our orders ahead of time) and as many chickens were “free-ranging” all over the yard, we had joked that they were going to go catch a fresh one for our lunch. All in all the experience at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary was terrific and the students all agreed that it was well worth the cost of $30 USD per person (plus $15 for the guide) and recommended that it be another regular event for future pharmacy students participating in this global advanced pharmacy practice experience (APPE). On the way home we came across a young cowherd (probably about 12 years old) driving his Longhorn Ankole cattle across the road. We had to wait for the road to clear before we could pass which gave us a great photo-op. From the horns of these creatures, local artisans make bowls, jewelry, and other crafts by either using as is or softening the horn in boiling oil and re-shaping into many different forms.