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.