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    Much has been written over the years about the capture and translocation of squarelipped rhinos to other areas in Africa and abroad. The initial experiments, which were successfully undertaken in 1961, and the subsequent events associated with the early days of rhino capture and "Operation Rhino" have been extensively documented by Ian Player and Nick Steele and formed the basis of the very informative SATOUR film, "To Catch A Rhino".  A major African species was rescued from the brink of extinction and the capture and relocation of these animals, started in the 1960s and continuing today is undoubtedly the most important and prestigious of the achievements of the Natal Parks Board in its 50 years of existence.

    The technique used in the capture of squarelipped rhinos has been refined over the years, incorporating as it does today, the use of helicopters to lift the drugged animals out of inaccessible areas. This has resulted in rhinos being reintroduced to many areas where they formally occurred. In addition, they have been sent to safari parks in the rest of Africa and zoological gardens all over the world. Consistently successful results achieved with their capture and relocation has enabled this species to be removed from the schedule of endangered animals and their status fortunately now appears to be secure for all time.

    In the 1950s, two young squarelipped rhinos were captured in Umfolozi for the National Zoological Gardens in Pretoria. Both were young, orphaned animals, that had to be netted and roped, before being crated and transported. No anaesthetics were used in their capture. This was a significant event at the time but of greater value to the conservation of the species, were the events that were to follow ten years later. Experiments by Dr Tony Haarthorn with the use of anaesthetising drugs fired at a rhino from close range, using the Palmer capture gun had proved successful. In 1961, it was decided to follow up on Tony's early experiments and undertake the translocation of the first of these huge beasts. I was to be privileged to be associated with this historic event - the introduction to Mkhuze in 1961 of the first rhino to be darted and captured in the Umfolozi Game Reserve. The story has all the drama of unexpected events, challenges, and setbacks associated with any new venture of this kind and also a degree of pathos. Sadly, the historic event was to end in tragedy with the death of Amber, as our new arrival was called, despite all the efforts of the staff to save her. However, saddened as we were by the loss of Amber, we were all left with a certain sense of achievement. There was the realisation we had participated in an historic event and the knowledge that valuable lessons had been learnt which would be applied to future movements of rhinos. A stronger emotion though than any sense of achievement was the sadness that we all felt when Amber died. A feeling of kinship with her had developed amongst all of us and there was admiration for the fortitude and tenacity that she had shown during her long and brave struggle for survival.

    Black rhino had always occurred in the reserve and had managed to survive successfully at Mkhuze even before the area was proclaimed a reserve in 1912. This was largely due to the impenetrable nature of the riverine bush and the Acacia thickets in certain areas of the reserve. As early as 1944 a successful capture of one of these animals had been made for the National Zoological Gardens and "Kuzi" was transported to a new home in Pretoria. Not much is known of the circumstances surrounding the capture of "Kuzi" as the reserve was under the control of the Veterinary authorities at the time. What is recorded is that a black rhino cow that had a suitable calf, had to be shot for the purpose. The Zululand Game Reserves and Parks Board was not consulted at the time regarding the capture. Unfortunately all my efforts to obtain details of the capture and transportation of this animal have been unsuccessful, but it must have been an epic event!  It is certainly a story that needs to be told.

    By some miracle the black rhino population managed to survive the trauma and upheaval of the Nagana campaign, with its regular patrols, constant shooting and later, aerial spraying of the reserve. That the entire black rhino population was not wiped out, as a result in ingesting DDT from the foliage on which they browsed following the extensive spraying over the reserve is even more remarkable. The population however survived successfully.

    In September 1954, shortly after joining the Board, Singie could report the unusual sighting of a black rhino that had horns of the same length. Both horns were between 40 and 50 cm long. Strangely enough, Ranger Gilbert Schutte reported a similar sighting 18 years later, in February 1972. It would be interesting to know if it could have been the same animal. Singie made an even more unusual sighting in November 1961, when he saw a black rhino with a posterior horn about 100 to 120mm longer than the anterior one

    The disturbances of the Nagana campaign, thankfully, did not appear to traumatise the animals too much, for as early as January 1955 a black rhino cow was seen with a calf 2 to 3 weeks old. Other occasional sightings of rhino cows and calves were made over the next few years. In April 1958 Singie was fortunate to see a black rhino calf suckling from its mother, while she lay on her side. In October 1959, he came across a rhino cow with a very young calf at foot, which he estimated could not have been more than a day old. This sight was especially pleasing to him as the month before he had come across the carcass of a young rhino calf that had been snared, during one of his routine patrols.

     In November 1962, during the course of a patrol in the Skonkwane area, Khonjwayo and I spotted a black rhino cow with two calves. This was an unusual sighting as the black rhino, very much a solitary animal, would normally wean and evict a calf, before having another. We positioned ourselves underneath an easily scalable tree and watched as the three animals slowly browsed their way towards us. As the wind was in our favour, the animals were unaware of our presence. They got closer, and we both quietly climbed into our tree, from where we still had an excellent view of them. The youngest calf came right up to the tree, in which we were sitting and rubbed itself against it. While it was doing this, the cow moved past the tree and, picking up our scent made off with a snort of alarm, closely followed by the two calves.

    It was towards the middle of June 1961 that the event of major significance for the reserve took place as far as the rhino population was concerned. This was the first reintroduction to an African game reserve of a squarelipped rhino captured in the Umfolozi Game Reserve. Singie graphically described, in his report for July 1961, the drama of Amber's arrival in Mkhuze and the events around this historic happening.

    "On 11 June, Senior Ranger Ian Player and Dr Haarthorn arrived with the news of a possible transportation of a squarelipped rhino from the Umfolozi Game Reserve to Mkhuze. This was indeed wonderful news for all of us. An extensive tour of the reserve was made in order to locate a suitable site for an enclosure and a spot was finally selected near the Nsumu game guard camp. Here Dr Haarthorn requested that four bomas be erected to house the animals after their arrival in the reserve and we set about the terrific task of erecting the bomas in record time. All labour, game guards, togt and ranging staff, threw their backs into the job. Many gallons of sweat were expended in digging the 21/2-foot deep trenches to take the silver terminalia poles that were chopped in the reserve and carted to the site by tractor. The ground was so hard that every time the pick bit into it, sparks flew".

    "The transportation of the poles, using our inadequate transport, was a major undertaking in itself. My thanks and admiration go out to all the staff for their co-operation in this task. The work continued in hot sunshine until Saturday, when the arrival of pouring rain turned the whole effort into one of bewilderment. What had shortly before been a piece of steel hard ground, rapidly turned into a quagmire".

    "During the early hours of the 17th of June 1961, five days after we had started building the bomas, I was woken up to shouts of "Wake up - we've brought you a rhino". From out of the truck parked near the office scrambled the Director, Mr John Page, the Chief Conservator, Zululand, Peter Potter Senior Ranger Ian Player and Dr Tony Haarthorn, all of whom proceeded to tell me of their experiences on the wet and soggy road. The truck that was carrying "Amber", as our rhino was called, had slid of the road, was bogged down near Ngweni and could not move. The following day, having got additional assistance, they returned to the truck to try to "debog" it and bring the vehicle, carrying the first adult white rhino to be captured and transported in South Africa, to Mkhuze"!

    "The tenacity of those members of our staff involved in this exercise deserves great admiration and praise. Anon! Amber. Yes, forever Amber. How sad that after all the great work done, she should lose her life in such a great cause".

    Amber arrived in the Mkhuze Game Reserve in grand style. The truck in which she was being transported being towed by a road grader driven by the Board's Roads Maintenance Officer, John Kymdell. Despite the pouring rain and the glutinous mud, John proudly guided the convoy, with us trailing along behind in our Landrovers as best we could, to the holding pens at the Nsumu boma. Here the prodigious task of unloading Amber began.

    The ground was so sodden that everyone sank ankle deep into the mud, lifting killogrammes of black daga every time a foot was lifted and collecting more with every step taken. We were all pretty exhausted by the afternoon as none of us had had any sleep for 24 hours, but the importance of the occasion kept us all going.

    The crate was gradually manoeuvred off the truck, lowered to the ground, into the mud and eased up to the gate of the boma.  The crate was placed at the entrance of the boma and the door was raised. Nick Steele had anticipated that as soon as the door of the crate was opened, Amber would come charging out into the boma, with much huffing and puffing, but we were to be disappointed. She preferred to stay in her crate rather than experience the discomforts of the wet boma and all our efforts to entice her out proved futile - she would leave the crate in her own good time, when she chose to do so! We were unaware at the time of the injuries that she had sustained during the course of her journey to Mkhuze.

    After a number of unsuccessful attempts to get Amber into the boma, it was decided to leave her where she was and tie the crate to the gate of the boma, in the hope that she would leave it of her own accord during the night. The weary staff then climbed into the trucks and Landrovers and headed back to Mantuma, where Granny Macrae, Singie's mother-in-law, a grand old lady in her own right, had prepared a meal and supplied everyone with hot soup and cold chicken and impala - our first meal of the day. Then we all wearily headed off to bed to get a few hours sleep.

    Early the following morning we headed back to the bomas at Nsumu in the pouring rain, again slipping and sliding on the waterlogged roads, During the previous two days we had already had almost 100mm of rain and it was still coming down. This would normally have been a blessing for the game and for the reserve in general, but it was certainly not the weather we would have chosen to welcome our important new arrival.

    When we got to the boma we discovered that Amber had left her crate during the night but appeared to be still stupefied by the drugs that had been administered to her the previous day. Her right shoulder was very swollen and there appeared to be another swelling near her kidneys. She could not walk on her right foot and was having great difficulty in moving around the boma in the mud. A more unsatisfactory state of affairs for her welfare could hardly be imagined and we immediately set about trying to improve it. Great quantities of grass were cut and thrown into the boma in an attempt to give her a more comfortable footing and to insulate her from the mud, but in no time at all this had been trampled into the squelching mud. We were delighted to see though that Amber had eaten some of the fodder supplied the previous day, but had not drunk anything. 

    By the afternoon of 20 June she appeared to be doing well and we all started to have hopes that the worst was behind us. Her shoulder was still very swollen and was obviously painful as she was having great difficulty in moving around. However, during the night disaster struck! We discovered on the morning of the 21st that, during the night, Amber had tried to force her way through the poles forming the back wall of the boma and escape.

    Amber lies in the boma with a badly cut left leg. Abrasions on her body have been covered with antiseptic ointment

    In the process she had severely lacerated her leg on the side of a 44-gallon fuel drum which had been cut in half and placed in a corner of the pen as a water container. In our haste to complete the enclosure before her arrival, there had been no time to fold down and smooth off the sides of the drum. I had been concerned about the edge of the container when we put it into the boma 2 days before, but had been assured that it should not cause a problem. Had the animal been healthy all would, no doubt, have been well, but in her weakened condition aggravated by her sore shoulder, Amber had had got herself into trouble. She had not been able to extricate herself, having gone down to drink from the drum. When she was discovered she was lying half over it with a badly lacerated leg. We realised later that we should rather have dug a small depression in the soil for a wallow and filled it with water, but that was a lesson that we learnt too late!

    With much difficulty, we succeeded in placing ropes under the animal to form a sling and with much heaving, manoeuvred Amber out of the drinking trough and into a more comfortable position. Then we set about treating the cuts and lacerated leg with whatever ointments we could find. In her weakened condition and as a result of her cut leg Amber could no longer stand and efforts were made to feed her by hand. These were not very successful and all our efforts to get her to drink water out of a plastic bucket and later a basin, also proved fruitless.

    Eventually, a length of polythene waterpiping was placed in her mouth, down which we carefully poured water from a bucket. She was obviously very thirsty and her plaintive whimperings as we tried to get her to drink were heartrending. Having successfully forced the pipe into her mouth, she sucked at it greedily once she had tasted the water. Singie estimated at the time that she must have drunk between 30 and 50 litres of water on that first attempt. Then we were faced with a different problem - having got the pipe into Amber's mouth she hung onto it and would not let go! After several unsuccessful attempts at removing it we decided to leave it where it was for another transfusion in about an hour's time. Water was then again eagerly sucked from the pipe and another 30 to 40 litres disappeared. Some of it spilled onto the ground around her, but most of it disappeared in great gulps. We were all very pleased that we had at least got Amber to drink and Singie spoke for all of us when he wrote at the time " we rangers were delighted as Amber, our very special charge, had crawled her way deep into our hearts".

    Tony Haarthorn arrived during the course of the afternoon with a supply of penicillin and gave Amber an injection. He also suggested that, if we could get hold of it, Terramycin should be used. We were fortunately able to obtain a small quantity of this antibiotic from the Mkhuze store. During the following day Amber was injected with 15cc of Terramycin every 6 hours, in the hope that it would contain any infection which she might have picked up.

    Our main concern at that time was that Amber had not had a bowel movement since her arrival and on the 23rd Norman Deane arrived from Hluhluwe with a supply of Prostigmine which we injected into her in an attempt to stimulate a bowel movement. Further injections of Terramycin were given, but it was becoming obvious to all of us that Amber was weakening. The matter was discussed between Norman and Singie and it was decided that, should it start raining again, Amber would regrettably have to be destroyed.

    In the meantime we had another distraction; a new arrival in one of the other bomas. On Wednesday 21 June, a truck had arrived in the reserve from Umfolozi with Charlie, the second squarelipped rhino to be shipped out of Umfolozi. This young male rhino was placed in the end boma and left to its own devices for the time being. All our efforts were concentrated on trying to save Amber.

    After his talk with Norman, Singie went into Mkhuze village to telephone Tony Haarthorn, who by then had returned to Umfolozi. He agreed with Singie and Norman's decision and confirmed that, if further rain fell, Amber was to be destroyed and Charlie released into the reserve. Singie had hardly returned to the reserve, having spoken to Tony, when the heavens opened up and torrential rain started falling. It was estimated at the time that possibly 100mm of rain fell in 11/2 hours - a most unusual occurrence for that time of the year. We tried to keep Amber dry by covering her with Singie's patrol tent, which was all that was available in the reserve at the time and on Saturday afternoon she appeared to be rallying. We were again successful in getting her to take a small amount of food and she had another long drink of water.  There was nothing further that we could do for her at the time and we returned to Mantuma.

    The rain carried on throughout the night and on Sunday morning, 25 June, we slithered back to the boma. On our arrival we found, to our distress, that Amber had died during the night. We then had the sad task of having to drag the carcass out of the boma, using the tractor and remove it some distance into the bush, where it was dissected to enable a post mortem to be performed. This revealed that Amber had died from internal haemorrhaging.

    In retrospect, it was something of a miracle that Amber managed to survive for as long as 8 days, when one considers the extent of Amber's injuries. Added to this was the trauma of her capture and transportation to Mkhuze, when she had been incarcerated in her crate, her injury in the boma and the atrocious weather. She had faced tremendous odds very bravely. The Ngwenje area between Hluhluwe and Mkhuze had received well over 100mm of rain in two days and it was here that the truck carrying Amber to the reserve had slid off the road and become bogged down in heavy mud. She was stuck uncomfortably in her crate and had to stand at an angle of 45( for over 24 hours, scarcely able to move in any direction, before the truck could be pulled free by our road grader. My last memory of Amber is one that remains vividly in my mind to this day. It is the sight of pieces of her carcass being carried off after the post mortem, by members of the togt labour gang, who had decided to try cooking and eating some of the meat. A sad end indeed to a noble animal!

    The second adult squarerlipped rhino to be moved out of Umfolozi was also sent to Mkhuze. This was a young bull called Charlie. Charlie's translocation to the reserve was uneventful and, in contrast to Amber, he arrived very much alive and well! He started feeding immediately on the afternoon of his arrival and also had a long drink of water. Later nicknamed "The Wandering Jew" because of his incessant wanderlust, Charlie lost no opportunity in trying to break out of the boma in which he had been placed. The day after his arrival we arrived at the boma to find that he had tried to force his way out of the corner of the pen. This action again reinforced Singie's theory that, with both wild and domesticated animals, it was always better to construct a round holding pen with an inner "core" of poles or reeds around which the animals could circle. The absence of corners that the animals could run into coupled with the fact that they could move out of sight of whatever was disturbing them seemed to have a calming effect. I have personally seen that enclosures built along these lines have proved very successful in preventing animals from injuring themselves. It also helped them to settle down and recover from the trauma of capture and translocation, far more quickly than would otherwise be the case. Had we had thwe time, we would most certainly have constructed at least two of the holding pens along these lines.

    Charlie had certainly done his best to break out of the enclosure on the first night in his new home. In his attempts to do so, he had succeeded in making several openings in the walls of the pen, all of which had to be speedily repaired. Fortunately for us and despite the fact that the boma had been very hastily erected, it withstood his efforts to smash his way out.

    Charlie in the boma at Mkhuze - June 1961

    Charlie refused to settle down and become docile. Normally, when a young rhino has been in a pen for a week or more it becomes so tame it will eat out of your hand. Not so with Charlie! Any movement near his pen produced a snort and a mock charge. When it started raining again on Saturday afternoon of the 24th, the gates of Charlie's pen were opened to let him out. When freedom was offered to him however, he positively refused to leave the pen in our presence. All efforts to dislodge him proved fruitless. Even passing backwards and forwards in front of the open gate did not produce the desired result. All that was achieved was the generation of a considerable amount of nervous tension amongst the Ranging staff as Charlie would charge towards the open gate, scattering everyone in the process, before coming to a skidding stop at the entrance to the boma and reversing back inside again. As it got dark it was decided to leave Charlie to his own devices and we all returned to Mantuma. 

    On the morning of the 25th we found that not only had Amber died during the night, but that Charlie had pushed his way through a corner of the boma and there was no sign of him. There was a fair amount of spoor in the vicinity of the pen that indicated that he had milled around there for some time before heading off into the bush. Unfortunately, the heavy rain that had fallen during the night had obliterated much of the spoor and there was no way of tracing Charlie's movements. On Monday morning we established that Charlie had crossed the Nsumu pan, where he had to wade through water almost a metre deep and then wandered up along the fenceline with Nxwala. Here he had crossed into the Sate Land through a gap in the fence where poachers had lifted it - and then we lost track of him. He was obviously on his way back to Umfolozi. Amber and Charlie were both gone. Not exactly a satisfactory conclusion to the great experiment of moving the first rhino, but an exercise which was filled with considerable drama nevertheless! It was certainly one that taught us valuable lessons.

    John Dixon and game guards were sent to find Charlie and he was eventually tracked to a private farm at Lower Mkhuze. Here he settled down with the local cattle for a while and attempts were made to keep him under observation.

    On 30 June 1961, Ranger John Clark delivered a third rhino, June, without incident. We decided to change our procedure with June in that she would not be placed into a holding pen, but offloaded at Denyer's Beacon in the central section of the reserve. We felt that the animals did not like to be confined to the holding pens having lived in a wild state for so long. After offloading June at the beacon, she was injected with a tranquilliser and left to settle down in her new surroundings.

    For the rest of the year there were periodic entries in all our monthly reports on sightings which we had made of the rhinos that had been introduced. In September 1961, Singie passed on to me a report of a "dead" rhino that had been seen that morning on Badenhorst's farm at Lower Mkhuze. I got myself to the farm as rapidly as possible and, on investigation, found Charlie lying fast asleep under a thorn tree! In October 1961, it was June's turn to get the wanderlust and she moved out of the reserve, onto Hilder's farm near Mkhuze village. It was decided to try and recapture her and bring her back to the reserve. On the 25th the capture team arrived from Umfolozi to make an attempt to redart the animal. We assembled on Hilder's farm and, having checked our equipment, we scoured the farm until we had located June and then the chase was on. Coming up behind the animal as rapidly as possible, Ian Player fired the dart at the rhino, but it missed the target. The capture attempt had to be abandoned for the day, as our quarry ran off into a patch of thick thorn scrub where the Landrover could not follow.

     The following day we returned to the farm and tried again. This attempt was equally unsuccessful. As June was running away in front of the capture vehicle, she had her tail curled back in characteristic fashion and, as luck would have it, the dart fired at her, neatly pierced the tail. The needle of the dart became blocked with cartilage material and it soon became apparent that the anaesthetic had not been injected. 

    June led us a merry chase around the farm for about 25 minutes. We followed her in the hope that some of the drug might have taken effect, but it then became obvious that this was not to be

    An amusing scene that I recall while the chase was on, involved the arrival of the "Zululand Express" - the daily train from Durban. The locomotive came into view as we were bucketing over the veld in our Landrovers after the animal. As it approached, I noticed the engine driver leaning out of his cab, deep in thought. He chugged past the rhino, which was running in an open area next to the line and his eyes casually followed the large form running next to his train, not really registering at first what he was looking at. His locomotive passed the rhino and his head suddenly came back with a jerk as he realised that the animal next to his train was a rhino. Leaning out of his cab, he followed our chase of the rhino for as long as he could, before giving us a cheery wave and a toot on his whistle as his engine disappeared into the thorn trees.

    Having used up the only two darts that the Umfolozi capture team had brought along, the chase had to again be abandoned for the day as John returned to Umfolozi to collect additional darts. He made a speedy trip back and forth and was back again, with the darts, early in the afternoon. A third attempt was made to dart June at about 16:00 and this attempt was, fortunately, more successful as the dart smacked into the animal. Then the chase was on again.  June ran in front of the capture vehicle for about 25 minutes, during which time she scarcely slackened her pace. The anaesthetic finally started to have an effect and by sunset the great beast was crated and on her way back to Mkhuze, where she was placed in the boma for a while to discourage further wanderings. As it turned out this was wishful thinking on our part.

    Singie recorded the recapture of June in his end-of-month report and wrote "Congratulations must go to Nick Steele for a wonderful exhibition of bundu driving. His skill in handling the 'Rover was without a doubt, remarkable. Some very near escapes and misses were the order of the day for June was determined to lead us into the worst terrain and heaviest bush possible. Secondly, Senior Ranger Ian Player is to be congratulated on his skill in getting those darts into June's hindquarters. It is no mean statement when I say that both the animal and 'Rover were travelling very rapidly. Despite bumps and crashing down shrubs, the darts found their mark. Very good shooting indeed".

    "A remarkable thing was that at no stage did June try to break through any of the fences, which she encountered, even though, on several occasions, she was brought into a bottleneck while the chase was on. Last but not least, the performance of my valiant Landrover NPA 705 must be mentioned. This machine took a tremendous battering but stood up to it all, despite the fact that it now has defective steering as a result of the battering it took! After this effort, little doubt was left in my mind that possibly no other make of vehicle could stand up to the gruelling experience of being driven in four-wheel drive so continuously, as was required. I take off my hat to a Landrover and the 26th October 1961 will remain in my memory as one of the most interesting, instructive and exciting days that I have ever had"

    We should perhaps have learnt a lesson from Charlie's previous efforts to break his way out of the boma, for when we returned to check on June the following morning she was gone! Despite the long and exhausting chase of the previous day, she had forced her way out of the boma during the night and the following morning there was no sign of her.

    More rhinos were expected to be sent down from Umfolozi and in November 1961, it was decided to fence in a half-a-kilometre square paddock near the rhino stockade in which to keep the new arrivals until they had settled down. We tried to make the paddock as secure as possible and the fence around it consisted of a double strand of barbed wire and one strand of lift cable. Water was pumped from the Nsumu pan and a small two-stroke pump to feed a rhino wallow, was bought for this purpose. 

    The first rhino to be placed in the new enclosure was Minihaha. She was kept here for some months before being released but she obviously failed to link up with either June or Charlie during the year. At the end of 1962 she was seen in the company of a black rhino bull - a most unusual occurrence. Towards the end of 1963 she had deserted her erstwhile companion and had taken up with a herd of 5 blue wildebeest. Belinda, a rhino cow arrived in 1963 to join the other three surviving animals and she was the last of the rhinos that were sent to the reserve to have the distinction of having names allocated to them; future arrivals would remain anonymous.

     Minnihaha finally sorted herself out, for in February 1964 she was seen with two recently introduced rhino bulls in the Dagela area. The event that everyone had been waiting for finally arrived. In August 1967 a white rhino and young calf were seen in the Mahlambeni area - the first rhino calf to be born in the reserve and an auspicious event. In November of the same year two more calves were seen.

    The rhinos that were sent to Mkhuze settled down very well and over the next 10 to 15 years they continued to breed at a satisfactory rate. Territorial competition amongst the animals was obviously taking place, for in October 1979 Warden Mark Astrup reported that five rhino were stranded on the north bank of the Mkhuze River. The animals had wandered out of the reserve, perhaps in search of new territories and had become stranded in the African reserve, as a result of the river coming down in flood. The rhino split up into two groups, one of three animals and the remaining two. During the next two months the animals wandered throughout the Makatini Flats, between Ubombo and Jozini and as far north as the Pongola River. They proved extremely difficult to locate for recapture as they moved considerable distances during the night, in their efforts to locate water. They also lay up during the day in thick scrub. The capture team was called in on a number of occasions and although fresh tracks were located, the animals were not to be found. After a while, no further tracks could be discovered and it was surmised that the animals had eventually found their way back into the reserve.

    During the last 40 years many hundreds of rhinos have been successfully moved from Umfolozi, and more recently from other reserves as well, to new homes in Africa and abroad. The capture of these animals has now become something of a routine operation, with the refining of capture techniques and the introduction of helicopters to dart animals and recover them from areas inaccessible to vehicles. Their care in the holding pens is now also something of a routine operation. The capture of Amber and her translocation to a new home was to become the forerunner of one of the most important conservation achievements of the 20th century. Sophisticated though these new techniques now may be, catching a rhino today will never be able to match the excitement, drama, triumph and the pathos of Amber's capture, arrival and death in Mkhuze. As Rangers we were all very aware of how privileged we had been to have had a small part in the drama and share in an historic event, even though it ended tragically. It remains one of my treasured memories of my service in the reserve.