Mark was “in a real pickle.” On Saturday, Oct. 15, park rangers at Zimbabwe’s Lake Chivero Recreational Park spotted the dominant white rhino bull, the only rhino species on the planet that isn’t categorized as endangered, with a curious accessory: a tire, snugly wrapped around his horn and snout.
In a Facebook post shared the same day, wildlife group Aware Trust Zimbabwe described getting a call to report the incident and “racing” to the scene.
“Mark’s mouth was bound firmly shut and he couldn’t eat or drink,” they said. Rangers had spotted him on the water’s edge, thrashing around in an attempt to free himself from the center of the tire.
Aware recounted that when two of their vets pulled up, they “found Mark, the dominant bull, lying close to his girlfriends, looking decidedly dejected and exhausted from his ordeal on this scorching hot day.”
With no chance of freeing himself, the vets darted Mark with a tranquilizer and took pictures as they attempted to pull the wedged tire off his snout. After a few minutes of “manpower” and extra help from some park rangers, they were able to pry the discarded ring off of him.
Trash from Harare and nearby towns is becoming more commonplace around the lake as a persistent drought continues throughout southern Africa. In September, NewsDay Zimbabwe reported that the Zimbabwe National Water Authority found that dam levels in the country’s southern region were below 30 percent capacity, marking a critically low stage far before the rainy season is expected to begin in November.
“With the drought at its zenith, the Lake has receded a lot and pollutants such as nets and tires are washing up all the time,” AWARE said in its post. “Mark obviously fancied some vegetation that was growing right in the center of the tire, and once he stuck his nose to the ground to grasp it, the tire came up over his horn stub.”
Mark fully recovered from the traumatizing affair, the group reported.
“Eleven minutes later he was antidoted and grazing again as if nothing had happened.”