Nov 22, 2011


Besides from our official animal residents that star in every tour we have a couple of animal residents that roam freely inside the rehab. Bunnies, bucks and dassies form part of our Moholo family too.

The dassies or rock hyrax is biggest “family” we have here at the Rehab, as they form part of one of our breeding projects. Member of one of these families, closely related to elephants -even though their size doesn´t show it -, is Bruce.

Bruce is an older male dassie that was kicked out of his mount, probably by a territorial fight. All we know is he´s decided to adopt the female student quarters and the common room –whenever he gets a chance to slip in – as his new home. Being exiled from his mount, Bruce can no longer live with what used to be his family so he's moved on into making friends with the students. Since then he´s become a highly photographed personality and enjoys constant company and attention.

Staff members are also very fond of him, except when he decides to spend the night in one of their houses or on top of their cars. 

Nov 3, 2011

Update on Majete leopards

A pair of our leopards has officially been released in Malawi, with another 2 following by the end of this month. We are all anxiously following their movements by their GPS collars, they seem to be doing fine in their new home and we’ve been able to establish they both have made kills!.

Sending our leopards to Malawi has raised many questions. With such abundance of leopards in the wild, authorities have been considering putting down the “problem” ones who are being pushed out due to territorial fights, as they seem to have a taste for cattle or expensive game. Facing this new problem we are grateful to be a part of this wonderful experience of being able to send leopards elsewhere.

The leopards moved to Majete Wildlife Reserve in Malawi as part of a repopulation initiative started in 2003 by Dr Anthony Hall Martin, African Parks, Enviro Affairs and many others. In the 2003 the area of about 75.000 hectares had virtually no animals left. 30 animals were counted, this including duikers and warthogs. With a lot of community work they have now been able to make the community feel and care about these animals, as this new reserve gives employment to over 2500 people. The interesting thing is that the people that viciously protect the animals in the reserve are the same ones that nearly 10 years ago were poaching them. Having reintroduced more that 400 elephants, buffalo, sable antelope, 12 black rhinos, etc. it was now the turn for the predators. Only lions and leopards will be re introduced in the area as these are the ones that we have historical records of living in the area. They are looking to introduce 8 leopards and the lions will be only coming next year and so the project can be “finalized” in the term of reintroducing animals. It’s been a great success because we’ve managed to do our small bit and help reintroduce wildlife where humans had almost extinguished them, and this is makes us very proud!.


As you may have realized our new logo has changed. Even if our image has changed, the star of it remains the same. Who is this bird in Moholo’s logo? Why is it so special you may ask? This bird is Queen our magnificent crowned eagle. When the Rehab began back in 1990 she was one of the “founding” animals that came along with Brian and Jenny from Natal.
Queen was hand raised and trained as a falconry bird for 8 years after which she turned very aggressive. She killed 3 dogs and injured the falconer’s wife and 2 other falconers. After this she was confined into a small cage. She was rescued and brought to us around 26 years ago. Brian’s son took her over and he had such a knack with birds she followed him around even chirping like a chicken. Charles soon left for the army for a year and so Queen very offended turned to Brian who was now bringing her food every day and now took comfort in his company.
As part of our awareness program we enhanced her choice and with the right permits and using the birds cainisim (killing of a nesting bird by a nest mate), we supplied her with fertile eggs taken from the wild, for her to incubate. She then raised 7 chicks; 6 of them were released into the wild and one of them was sent to a bird show in Cape Town. After this we decided to stop giving her fertile eggs as there is nowhere to put them back as their habitat is disappearing fast and there was the question of “will they survive”. After this she has laid another 7 infertile eggs and she’s currently on her 8th time. Since her eggs are infertile they rot and pop after 60 days of incubation.
She is not only our logo, but also our species’ ambassador as she’s part of our awareness and educational program, travelling with us to many educational venues.

Nov 1, 2011

Meet our newcomers, the first ones of 2011's baby season.
Smeagol and Yoda the bushbabies, Frank Jr. the Spotted Eagle Owl, Spitfire the serval, Raisin the duiker and Mushu the genet.

Oct 29, 2011


In early May this year we had a 2 weeks old female duiker brought in. With many changes happening in the rehab she was assigned to one of our students –Ale- who would later on become a staff member. Caring for young antelopes is a very difficult task as it requires a lot of dedication and commitment. Many weeks were spent on around the clock feeds to ensure this little girl with a red mohwak would get all the milk she needed. At about a month of age she adventured outside the clinic for the first time following her “mom”.  She eventually got used to her daily routine and would skip happily and playfully behind Ale in and out of the clinic and into the courtyard. As she grew stronger and started nibbling on her beloved raisin bush and marula she was officially moved into an outside cage and from there into the courtyard. When she was old enough and browsing happily she was let free around the rehab. Soon everyone was taking by her sweet temper. She became our tour undercover star. Kids loved her and she would usually let them stroke and feed her leaves.

 It sounds like a pretty simple and easy task to raise a duiker, however there were many days of obsessing over her bowel movements, her weight, the type of branches she would like, whether there was too much sun or if it was too cold, her anger wen she finished her milk... Now, 6 months later she is a complete independent personality who would still run up to her mom for a session of cuddling.

This week she’s been transferred to another home with other duikers. We would have liked to keep her but to prevent her from imprinting on other animals or humans we felt this was the best thing to do for her, as we don’t have any other male duikers. We will surely miss her around here but we are certain she will have a great life and make her new owners very happy.

Oct 22, 2011

Human well being

Working in a Rehab Centre and caring constantly for our animals’ health and well being, we sometimes forget the impact they can have on our health and on our well being.

This was the case of Daniel van Wyk who came to visit our center through the program “Make a wish”. Daniel is a cancer sufferer and his specific wish was to interact closely with wildlife, especially with cheetah and lion.

On arriving in South Africa he was not well and mobility was a problem. However we were informed that after he visited the Rehab and the Kruger Park he started walking freely. By the time he returned home, he was running which he has not been able to do for the past 2 years.

We have been advised that his leukemia is now in remission and he will be able to return to school after 2 years of absence. The stimulation and positive motivation of interacting with wildlife has seen Daniel return to Holland to live an almost normal life after a long and painful treatment. Well done Daniel, we wish you much happiness and health from us all at Moholoholo

Malawi here we come!

We are very proud to say that on the 6th of October we made a small yet successful step into wildlife conservation around the globe. For the first time wild leopards were sent to another country – Malawi- to be released back into the wild.

A few months ago Dr. Anthony Hall Martin from African Parks, contacted us: he needed predators. He had heard that Moholo is constantly rescuing and relocating “problem” animals such as lions, and especially leopards. Why? The Majete’s Wildlife Reserve (Malawi) wildlife had been wiped out by local communities, and in 2003 he had started a repopulation initiative to successfully reintroduce wildlife into this country.
With overseas sponsorship, community work and with a lot of effort, the 75000 hectares of the Majete Wildlife Reserve were fenced. So far the first animals introduced have successfully bred and increased in their numbers. Initially they introduced 250 elephants, 450 buffalo, 250 sable antelope, 12 black rhinos, 35 Lichtenstein hartebeest, waterbuck, eland, impala, etc. 7 years later the park is now ready to take in lions and leopards.
Fortunately 3 “problem” leopards where already staying with us at the Rehab. With the help of many people, especially Environmental Affairs, It was decided we would first send a male and a female. The second male will be sent later on when we find another female to send with him.

Our leopards are now in Malawi and everything seem to be going great for them!. For 2 weeks they will be kept in a pen and then released into their new 75000 hectare home. We will try to send 2 more leopards shortly and give Malawi a second chance and help us in our wildlife conservation pledge

Barry the Bateleur

We are going to let someone else tell you this story. Here's the email we've received:

Outside my room, I noticed a fully grown Bateleur Eagle sitting on the ground in the shade of a large Mopane tree. I rushed to do a morning check out after drive, returning to find that it still hadn't moved. I decided to investigate, smelling and finding a dead large-spotted genet not far from this beautiful raptor. He let me get uncharacteristically close without taking off. Sometimes letting nature take its course is the right method to go but that day it was different. Seeing a power-line near to where the bird was sitting and having the female calling it from the air above me was enough to make me think otherwise.

Realising something was definitely wrong with him, I called a few of the other rangers and after phoning Moholoholo we decided to catch him and take him into their Rehabilitation Centre. Riaan, Charlee, Mike and I became attached to "Barry the Bateleur" on the trip into Hoedspruit as he sat in a crate quietly enjoying our company and the cool breeze of the air-conditioning. A couple hours later they called back to say he had been poisoned. The genet had obviously eaten a rat that had been poisoned by our neighbours. We buried it on our return to the lodge to prevent any further incidents, knowing that we couldn't be responsible as we make use of environmentally friendly products.
Just 5 days later, Barry was brought back to Ngala to be set free again after a few days on a drip in recovery. They are very territorial birds that pair for life so we got the guests as excited and as involved in the release process now understanding the significance. In about 30 seconds, he had hobbled out the box and taken to flight joining a female that was flying around in the area.
What a moment it was to see the success unfold. We can only presume it was his partner who had been flying around alone at the time.

-Andrew Nicholson, Ngala Safari Lodge Ranger

Behind the scenes, seems like it is bird poisoning season as we've had a Bateleur, Whalberg’s eagle and a Vulture brought in for poisoning in less than 2 weeks. To save these birds from dying we have to tube them every two hours. This task is carried on even throughout the night. Lack of sleep is not important when an animal’s life is in the line.

We are happy that this particular story had a happy ending and that the two bateleurs could be reunited. We know this success story has made all of us happy.

Rhino Interaction Tour

In our pledge to create awareness of the current plight of our rhinos, we have opened our doors, in collaboration with Zani, for a rhino interaction tour with local schools.
Della was the star of the interaction, and everyone who has met her knows how much she loves the spotlight, especially when there are some common wild pear flowers included!
We believe knowledge is power and that by teaching the future generations about these magnificent animals, and dissipating the myths around their “magical” horns, we can do something for them and maybe help save them from extinction.

Dela: WWF's new rhino face

This month members of WWF South Africa contacted us to set up a photo shoot with Dela, our 20 month old black rhino. WWF wanted to be able to take up close pictures of a black rhino, and Dela was the only workable hand raised rhino they found – our girl surely loves to pose for the photos! The pictures taken by the photographer will be sold in a bid to help raise funds for rhino conservation in South Africa.
Even though Dela’s used to being the centre of attention in everyday photo shoots, this was even more exciting for her and we had a few close calls when our 500kg rhino decided to stomp around the set.

Dela has been with us for about 19 months and is about 500kg; she was 1 month old and 40kg when she was found stuck in a mud wallow in Kruger National Park.
Erin Prigmore –the co-star in the picture- is one of our staff members and her original “mommy”. She slept with Dela for 2 months in quarantine, and has hand raised her with the help of our students.
Her future is uncertain with all the poaching but we are keeping her as safe as we can. In the meantime she’ll keep enjoying her freshly cut browse and welcoming all the guests that come to visit us on our tours and at Forest Camp!

Owl Season

The past couple of months have been owl crazy, it seems like they are falling from the sky... wait they kinda are!

A Giant Eagle Owl was brought in after being hit by a car with a broken beak. Fortunately his condition was not too bad and after being kept in the clinic a little while, our efforts worked! We then put him in an outside cage to everyone’s joy. As soon as he has healed totally we will be able to release him back in to the wild.

This year as well we’ve had many baby Barn Owls brought in. At least 8 of them –including our famous Simon and Garfunkel- are now living in an outside cage after being hand raised by our students. Most of the time they are brought in because people complain about the noise in their roofs and want them removed. Have you ever heard a barn owl? It is a beautiful noise! We hope to release all of them soon; we’ll let you know when we do!


Being a rehabilitation centre our main goal is to reintroduce wildlife to their natural environments and this month we feel very proud of it. Many animals come to our rehab every day. Some of them are injured, some are orphaned. We make our effort and our mission that the animals that are brought in make it and have the best life possible.

 This month we’ve had the opportunity to relocate and release 2 leopards that were brought in, trapped in snares, 2 fierce honey badgers that were causing some problems in a pig farm, 2 servals – on of which had to stay in the clinic a couple of weeks since he was injured when hit by a car and a brown hyena –also caught in a snare trap. We were also very lucky to quickly relocate 7 lion cubs from a nearby game farm along with a snared lioness that had been with us for over a year.

At the moment we are also rehabilitating 3 Duikers, a young Honey Badger, two wild Serval kittens, Genets and many more! We will keep you posted on how they are doing so we can share our joy with you as each day draws comes nearer to them being released

To us, this has been a very successful month

When humans interfere

When humans interfere in the natural world they are mostly driven by their emotions, even if sometimes this seems the appropriate thing to do, the natural system has its own ways that should be respected and let alone.

This month we had a 3 month old grey duiker and a baby bushbuck brought in. It was a found by a family next to the road and found with small scratches behind the ears and deep cuts in both the back legs. The family that found it decided to take it a home, which they did for a period of 3 weeks. All though the wounds needed attention they did not take the animal to the vet as they could not afford the fees.
Only when the legs got so swollen that it couldn’t walk, they then decided it was time to bring it to us. Her legs were in poor condition and we needed Dr. Muller’s help to treat them and we feared she would lose both her back legs. Dr. Muller cleaned the wounds and gave her a week’s antibiotic treatment. So far her condition has improved and we’ve decided to name her Oak. We hope that her legs will recover soon enough to join the other Grey Duiker – Marula in the courtyard.

That same day, we were brought a baby bushbuck badly injured by a troop of baboons and however “considerate” this might seem; it should have been left for nature to take its course. We know this sounds mean, but he had a punctured lung and numerous bites, but everything has its balance in nature and it’s up to us to understand it with a greater mind and accept it. Dr. Muller tried to close the wounds and fix the punctured lung. Our students assisted in this and Brian gave him mouth-to-nose respiration, once it was breathing again we however feared and realized that the internal damage caused by the baboon was more severe than we thought, to our great sadness and despite our efforts, the little one didn’t make it. Nature took its own course once more and relieved this beautiful animal of many days and months of pain.

Update on Rocky

Rocky -our baby white rhino- is completely blind. This was caused by a hard hit on the head by the poachers that took his mother’s life. Due to this set back in his life precautions must be made to avoid unnecessary noises such as a squeaking wheel barrow passing nearby or even the vehicles coming in and out must go at snail pace. This little “tank” is easily spooked, even if he can’t see, he has fortunately grown used to his human mommies voices and he follows them with assurance.

There is always great excitement if an animal especially rhino’s have a bowel movement, as 99.9% of the time the stress they have gone through having lost their mothers, causes constipation A few days earlier, Jessie –our volunteer staff and rhino mom- came running excitedly to the office. She had a bucket with Rocky’s first bowel movement, this might seem a strange thing to rejoice about but this means our rhino is finally adapting to his new environment.

Having been stable for a while under the constant care of two volunteer mommies, he has returned to his owner and his home!.

We are sure he will be taken care of and will be given the type of attention he needs.

7 Little Lions

This month we welcomed 7 lion cubs that were part of a pride of 11 lions; 3 adults and 8 cubs ranging between 5 and 12 months old. Even if it was a brief stay it was full of excitement and adrenaline.

The adults of the pride went missing and we were called in to take the cubs!. We could only find seven of them, all very thin. We darted them and brought them back to the rehab where we fed them with meat until their tummies were gorged like a balloon.

On the way to the Rehab the cubs started waking up in the back of the pick-up they were sharing with the students, the top up for some hadn’t been enough!. When we were moving them to quarantine some of them were certainly awake and a couple of naughty ones decided to take off!. We caught the first one and the second one had to be held by the neck by our staff while the students held its legs, meanwhile another cubby didn’t feel like joining his brothers and sisters in the quarantine cages and decided to find rest in the highest spot he could find. It was quite the adventure!

After all the fun had passed a greater task laid ahead of us: to find them a home. The first step was to test them for bovine TB – an illness that is now amongst the wild lions of Kruger Park and is of our concern. They all proved to be negative!!.

With a bit of luck we were able to quickly find a farmer near the Botswana border willing to take them. Not certain if they would survive on their own in the wild - being so young, Brian stressed the farmer to take the snared lioness that was brought to us over a year ago. He decided to take her and to put her in a camp next to the cubs and once they had bonded (lying next to each other on the each side of the fence) they could be released as a new pride. This will give them a better chance of survival. So we can all hold thumbs.

Oct 21, 2011

Just 24 hours?

Life in a Rehab Centre is never normal. Anything can happen any day as we are always on call for any animal that may need our assistance. A particular Monday in June turned out to be one of the busiest and could have not asked for a more interesting day. From routine procedures to life and death situations, our day felt like a roller coaster.

It all started early in the morning when Dr. Hein Muller came with his team to test our wild lioness for TB. She was first brought into the Rehab a year ago with a severe snared wound around her neck.

See our past article on the blog) This wound has healed beautifully since then and have found a suitable home for her that is if we can get the permits through which is another procedure one must work on. The TB is the final requirement so she can be reintroduced in a private game reserve.

Some of the students had the opportunity to assist Dr. Muller; one applied the eye ointment, while he explained what the test consisted of, and how the result would be measured. She was injected with both bovine and avian TB in her neck. In a couple of days we’ll re-measure her skin thickness, if it’s the same, it means she’s TB free and can be reintroduced to her new home!

Once we were done with the lioness the students went to assist Brian in the quarantine quarters, where our snared leopard and brown hyena are being kept. Both animals needed to be darted so we could examine up close how their wounds were healing. To our great relief, the leopard’s injuries are healing quite well. The stomach wound –where he was snared- looks incredible and his puncture wounds have almost completely healed. The tooth removal seemed to be a success and he is recovering quite well from this procedure as well. The claws however will take longer to heal, seeing he wore them down trying to get out of the snare.

Feeling happy and optimistic about our leopard, we then moved onto the brown hyena. He was darted by Brian – who has many years of experience. Something however didn’t go as planned and to our horror, our brown hyena, a very rare animal, died in front of our eyes. We couldn’t let this just happen and Jessie – one of our volunteer staff members- immediately began giving him CPR. She had done this previously with large dogs and it was definitely worth a shot! Alternating compressions with Brian doing the mouth-to-nose breathing our brown hyena started responding. After a couple of minutes he started breathing on his own! The CPR had worked and even though we still had to keep a close eye on him for the next couple of hours, we were just thrilled and relieved our friend came back to life after his heart had stopped! Once he had recovered and all looked well it was time to release him. After checking he was stable for a couple of hours, we took him then to a private game reserve where we released him. Our story had the most magnificent of endings and so did our day.

Keeping in touch with and old friend

On a typical Saturday morning we got a call from one of our neighbours: - “Brian we have a massive crocodile lying under the shade of a tree. We need help relocating him”. We set everything and we go on a mission to investigate. It turned out that this crocodile was an old friend of ours. He was rescued eight years ago in the tribal area and was reported to have been eating children and domestic stock. At the time we brought it to our dam, however, due to weed encroachment, he decided to leave us. He walked 2Km away from us, even crossing a tarred road. Now he had been found in our neighbour’s place.

We called in a crocodile expert who tagged along for the adventure. He sedated our 280Kg and 3.3m friend with a muscle relaxant and waited for his jaw to drop, showing us that it had worked and that it was now safe to proceed.

Once we cleared the bush around him and he was in a nice relaxed state, our expert proceeded to cover his eyes and tape his mouth while sitting on him. With the help of our students and the staff we then picked it up, and with much effort (did we mention it was an almost 300kg croc?!) we loaded him on the back of one of the pick-ups to move him to his new home. We drove deeper into our neighbour’s property towards a big dam where he could be released. When we found the right place we felt quite jealous of the amazing view he’s now got!

Meet Rocky

On the 20th June we received a new baby to enlarge our family; Rocky we have named it, a white rhino of 3 months of age.

Rocky came from a nearby game reserve where his mum was shot. Not only was the Mum shot with a high calibre rifle but the poachers removed her horn before she actually died this is the result when money rules the day. Another 3 year old calf was wounded but he was found on time and he’s being treated at the moment.

He was brought to the Rehab early evening and 6 of our staff members got him out of the trailer and gently held him, so that Brian could give him his first milk formula which with a struggle managed to get 1 ½ litres down. We are accommodating him in our boma and Jessie, one of our volunteer staff, has been assigned to be the rhino mommy. Jessie will have to sleep in the boma which is very important to avoid stress and see to his feeding which will also be monitored by Brian the first few times. At the moment he’s drinking every 3 hours over 24 hours!
By the second day he was happily drinking from the bottle Jessie was offering. Our students also have had the chance to sit by him and read to him out loud, as this helps him to settle in and get used to a ‘human’ mummy. However not everything is good news, we fear the “little” one’s vision is compromised, as he keeps knocking himself against the boma walls and we have noticed a white spot behind his eyes. We are hoping that this will only be temporary as he may have suffered some concussion.

After a week here, and his first time out of the boma he followed Jessie quite happily. We were all thrilled to see that there was a bond between them and that he would follow the sound of her voice easily.

As thrilled as we are to have him here, we know we still have a long way to go. The bigger the baby, the bigger the problems are. Raising a baby rhino is no easy task as they commonly suffer from ulcers due to stress; they also need a special milk formula that prevents this and other complications from happening. For the next couple of months we will have to be very vigilant of his every move so that we can release him back into the game reserve he came from.

We feel most privileged to have these huge ‘tanks’ –one black, one white- we are deeply saddened by the reason that brought them here. The recent rise in rhino poaching and the increasing Asian demand and illegal trade, is driving the current crisis and could lead these wonderful animals into extinction.

What do a leopard and brown hyena have in common?

1am wakeup call! “Wake up Moholo crew! Officials are bringing an adult male leopard that got caught around the waist by a cable snare in a fence line”!! As all the staff and students helped getting him off the back of the pick-up, we rushed him into the clinic where we quickly examined his wounds. His front claws were worn down to the root from clawing the ground to free itself from the trap. His front limbs have many puncture wounds from the barbwire. We treat these wounds with an antibiotic spray, leaving him to be a rare “blue spotted Leopard” for a couple of days. His intestines are almost about to fall out. His top right tooth is broken in half with the nerve hanging out. He needs professional help! We contact Dr. Peter Rogers our local vet to make arrangements to stitch up his wounds and to pull out this broken tooth. Once organised off we went and had the privilege of this being witnessed under the curious eye of our students.

He will be kept in an isolated ward for approx. two months and then once fully recovered he will be released into the wild. There is still a long way to go, but we hope he will be able to go back home safe and sound, putting this terrible episode behind him.

A few days later, we got called in again for another animal caught in a snare. This time it was a Brown Hyena, a 100km away from us. Without doubt we radioed Brian who was on another farm 1 hour’s drive away and went to get the Hyena. Luckily the snare did not cut through his front left leg it was only swollen. We have put him in isolation and hopefully we will be able to release him in a weeks’ time.

The Pangolin Visits

To come across a Pangolin in the wild is a very difficult thing; to come across two in less than a week, is amazing! They are rare nocturnal animals. In May this year we were so fortunate to have two pangolins staying with us for a couple of days. We still cannot believe it, but we got the pictures to prove it!

Our first “artichoke” visitor was brought in by a farmer who took him from the indigenous people. He was a bit of a character as his front right leg was missing due to an old snare injury. We kept them in the clinic for 3 days and feed him termites which he gladly ate with his very long tongue (which is 1/3 of his body length) until we could find a new and suitable home for him.

We took some faeces, blood and scale samples and sent them to the T.U.T to help them on their pangolin research. Let us tell you, getting a blood sample from a pangolin was very difficult! The scale sample took a lot of effort as well. They might be small animals but they are definitely tough.

While we were driving on the farm to Forest camp for dinner, we found our second visitor and this being a couple of nights after we had released the first one. Jan and Hardus the guides got off to get the pangolin and told the students to come and see a very rare sight. We decided to bring him back to the clinic and release him in the same reserve we had released the previous one. Moholoholo is not big enough for this animal and we are fenced in with an electrified fence as we have neighbours who do not want their animals coming into our reserve. Its territory can be up to 20.000 hectares a day and can they can get caught and die in an electric fence rolling itself up around it. Before he left, we made sure he had his 15minutes of fame, and made him the star of our student photo-shoot!

They were both released near the Kruger National Park where they can help themselves to as many ants and termites they want.