A southern white rhinoceros calf has been born at Dublin Zoo.

His mother, Ashanti, who already has six calves, gave birth at 4.30am on 10 February after a 16-month gestation period.

The calf is estimated to weigh about 50kg.

The youngster becomes the newest member of the seven-strong herd (also known as a crash) in the African Plains, including father Chaka.

Dublin Zoo currently takes part in a European breeding programme for southern white rhinos. It is estimated that 18,000 of these animals exist in the wild and the majority are found in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Kenya. Poaching for rhino horn, incorrectly believed to have medicinal qualities, is the most significant threat to the wild population.

Helen Clarke-Bennet, team leader of the African Plains said: "We are absolutely thrilled to welcome another rhinoceros calf to Dublin Zoo. These animals were on the verge of extinction in the 20th Century.

"Ashanti is an excellent mother. She and the calf share a strong bond, and it has been wonderful to watch them play together. We're looking forward to watching him integrate with the rest of the herd."