Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Wilds

It’s not the picture you’d expect--
a mother rhino rolling in the soft mud, the escaping rays of afternoon sun strong on the face of her calf, wide-eyed and waiting at her shoulder.

Except for the heavy rails that contain the pair on this January afternoon, it would seem that we’ve caught a glimpse of a most natural sight—mother and young at ease in the wild.
And, actually, we have.

The Wilds

The pair is here, at the Wilds, an internationally acclaimed wildlife conservation center operating on 10,000 sprawling acres in southeast Ohio. A gift in 1986 from the Central Ohio Coal Company to a partnership formed by the Ohio Departments of Natural Resources and Development, the Ohio zoological parks, and the private sector, the land, which had been surface-mined from the 1940s through the 1980s, began its long process of rehabilitation.
To areas initially reclaimed as grassland and planted to prevent erosion of the soil too compact from mining operations to allow the regrowth of trees, diverse meadow species and prairie plants are gradually being introduced. An interdisciplinary team in restoration ecology continues to plan and test the success of this area, with its goal far more than the green of these rolling hills--to rebuild a biologically healthy and functional ecosystem.

A skein of Canada geese flies just above the horizon.

This wide, treeless expanse is recognized by the Audubon Society as an important birding area. In the winter, golden eagles, rarely seen in eastern North America and rough-legged hawks that breed in the arctic tundra are often sighted at the Wilds. But birders scanning the broad hillsides for the horned larks or short-eared owls which are often seen here, may find exotic mammals instead. Managed breeding programs for rare and endangered species around the world find success in the natural, open-range habitat.
Last fall, they welcomed the birth of the first 4th generation captive-born Southern White Rhino calf in North America, Anan.

Anan, Southern White Rhino calf,
at 3 months

Anan and her mother

Free to roll and run, rest and romp, she pauses beside her mother in the afternoon sun.
The face of innocence to be sure--and with each bounding step, the promise of our reward in restoring the balance.

(all photos enlarge with a click)

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KaHolly said...

The Wilds sounds like an amazing place. Heather of the Hills has been sharing some amazing posts describing her visit there. It's nice to have a clearer picture of just what The Wilds is all about! ~karen

MObugs said...

What an awesome place to be sure. Anan is a precious sight to behold. She is the epitome of freedom and happiness, without a care in the world. An what a face! Too cute!

Arija said...

Would this not be a better wotld if all mining and mindless logging companies returned the land to the people for the taxpayers to restore the devastation.

Do I sound cynical, maybe I am, I have been around for long enough to witness the devastation left behind by greed.

Lovely place though and a ray of hope.

Great studies of mother and baby.

holdingmoments said...

Sounds like a fantastic place to visit Nina. From the link you gave, it looks amazing.

Beautiful shots of the White Rhino calf running free.

Murr Brewster said...

"Rhinos In The Snow..." first phrase that came to mind, and now I have a Doors song going through my head, which is a very bad thing. I'm going to rest my retinas on your photographs until it goes away.

Anonymous said...

Wide open spaces...truly wonderful to know that places like these still exist.

That rhino must feel a bit out of place, though.

Ginnymo said...

What wonderful photos of the Rhinos!! Must be so neat to see them like that. Great post Nina!

Mary said...


I get the "warm fuzzies" when I see Anan romp and play across the muddy pool. Oh, I'd kiss her, for sure.

Thanks for this sweet introduction.


Heather said...

Aww, Nina, you guys got to see play time? Gallop time? I'm a wee bit jealous, although it's kind of neat that each group got to see the rhinos in different stages of activity. So glad you finally got to see the Wilds. Ain't it amazing?!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I kept staring at the first photo trying to make sense of seeing snow with Rhinos. To my mind one would see the wilds of Africa. Or someplace warmer. Ha.. Shows how much I know of these things. What magnificent animals. We have lots of reclaimed mine areas in my neck of the woods. It seems that lately the mine companies are coming back through mined areas that are 20+ years old. Sad really because lots of the areas have been wonderful wintering grounds for Short-eared owls, merlins, rough-legged hawks etc. Hopefully Ohio can continue this program for years to come.

deejbrown said...

Rhinos in Ohio? I am grateful for life anywhere.

Julie Zickefoose said...

Hoggg heaven. Too, too cute. I love the action shot of Anan! Sweetness in a gray wrapper!

KatDoc said...

Very nice post, Nina. You caught the light much better than I did. Must practice more.

nina at Nature Remains. said...

Kathi--with the fast-paced action we were seeing, I'm sure none of us caught exactly the same shot. Many of mine I dumped into the trash--that fleeting light makes catching anything more than a blur a real challenge.
But isn't practice like this fun??!

Deborah Carr said...

Thanks for sharing this. Too often we overlook valuable habitat because it doesn't fit our idea of 'pretty'. We forget that the simplicity and open expanse of field and prairie supports a wealth of life.