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.
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.
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.
Last fall, they welcomed the birth of the first 4th generation captive-born Southern White Rhino calf in North America, Anan.
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.