How do rhinos react to people

What rhinos are talking about - finally understandable

They gasp, snort, whine and hiss - what do rhino calves mean by that? Sabrina Linn found it out: With a camera and microphone, the biologist listened to the little pachyderms for months - let yourself be surprised.

Sabrina Linn's first encounters with rhino baby Keeva were not exactly harmonious. “Whenever I came near her with the microphone, she would hiss at me through the fence of her enclosure,” says the young biologist. Keeva was born a month earlier in the Augsburg Zoo. And Sabrina Linn visited her to find out how young rhinos express their desires and feelings.
And hissing clearly means: stay away from me!

"We already know this warning sound from adult white rhinos," says the researcher who works in the Serengeti Park in Hodenhagen in Lower Saxony. “There the rhinos share an enclosure with zebras, dromedaries, ostriches and antelopes. If one of these animals gets too close to the rhinoceros, it hisses - as a first warning, so to speak. "
Females also react in the same way when an interested bull approaches but does not want to mate. And it works something like this: he trots over and greets her with a gasp (that's the greeting!), She hisses to make him run away, he hesitates and tries again, comes closer ... He shouldn't have done that, because now she yells at him. And if he still doesn't understand, she runs towards him with lowered horns.
"So the hissing can increase from: I'm a little pissed off to: Now that's really enough for me!"


How do I get mom's attention?

Little is known about the communication between adult white rhinos. About ten to eleven different sounds are known from previous studies.But no one had previously researched how young rhinos express themselves.For Sabrina Linn, this is a good reason to investigate this question for her doctoral thesis. "I find it totally fascinating to understand how animals" talk "to each other."
And so she made her way to eight young rhinos in three German zoos. In the luggage: microphone, camera and recorder. The yield: 164 hours of rhino sounds and images. Often she had to wait for hours in front of the enclosures, because nothing happened - except that the rhinos wallowed in the mud.
But in the end the biologist's patience was rewarded: She was able to pick up and interpret four different sounds.
"We also know three of the sounds that keep recurring from adult animals:They gasp when they say hello. They hiss to warn. And then you often hear them panting.“It sounds like chatter - and Sabrina Linn has heard that on several occasions. “The rhinos puff when they eat, rest, wallow or run. It probably doesn't make any special sense, it's just a puff. "
But Sabrina Linn didn't know one sound from adult rhinos - and it sounds like crying or howling. “I always heard that when the calves were hungry or thirsty, or when they lost sight of their mother. Then they whimpered until their mother noticed them. As the little ones got older, they cried less and less for their mother. "

Bottle child Kibo was a real godsend

The various calls of the little rhinos are obviously innate and not learned. Sabrina Linn recognized this when she met young Kibo in the Augsburg Zoo. He was a bottle child because his mother had cast him out. Kibo therefore did not spend his first few months with the other rhinos. Although he could see and hear them, he could not "talk" to them. Sabrina Linn observed that Kibo was still making all four sounds - so he must have been born with this knowledge.

Sabrina Linn believes her study can help us learn more about the white rhinos in Africa's wilderness and better protect them. Because the animals are acutely threatened with extinction (on this rhinoceros page you could hear Denn Wimmerton again). For example, researchers can determine the size of a group of rhinos by examining the “confusion of voices”. Then they also know how many young animals are there.
"Rhinos are so threatened that they need any kind of attention," says Sabrina Linn about her work. "In addition, every child knows what kind of sounds a dog, a cow or even an elephant makes. But most people don't expect rhinos to "talk" too. "