Rhino orphan rescue!
The Lowveld Rhino Trust responds to emergency rhino operations - including capturing and treating rhino calves, including orphans, often with injuries from snares, bullets, or fighting between animals.
Poachers are unselective about the rhinos they chose to poach and all too often females with dependent calves are killed, leaving orphans behind. If they are lucky, calves are found before they also die of starvation or predation, and are be rescued for treatment.
Orphaned calves require a lengthy period of care before they can successfully returned to the wild. They need minimum human interaction so that they grow up socially associating themselves with rhinos rather than people.
In Zimbabwe's Loveld region, the Lowveld Rhino Trust run emergency rescue operations to find orphaned or injured calves, and care for them until they can be rehabilitated into the wild.
Our experiences have shown that orphaned calves can be put back in the wild and achieve breeding success equivalent to wild-raised rhinos, as long as people do not cuddle them and make them confused about their rhino identities and how to interact appropriately with other rhinos
- Natasha Anderson, Rhino Monitoring Coordinator at the Lowveld Rhino Trust.
Above, as rhino calves grow, the team feed them while standing inside tyres. This prevents injuries from over excited little rhinos who might bash into their knees and legs.
Meet Mabuya and Squirt
Mabuya, a female rhino, was found wandering through the bush, blinded from penetrating wounds to the head - most likely caused by an attempted poaching incident. She was rescued by the team at the Lowveld Rhino Trust who treated her wounds - which included twice-daily eye-drops for many months.
While held in bomas - special rhino pens - Mabuya gave birth to a male calf, Squirt. Poor Squirt was seriously ill with diarrhoea, and had to be removed from Mum to receive special care. Enter stage right Sabi, a poaching orphan also in need of a new friend. The two calves were hand-raised by the Lowveld Rhino Trust, and released into the wild.
Mabuya's wounds healed well but she did not regain her vision despite lengthy treatment. Despite this, she is doing well in the wild and, using her other strong senses, has worked out where reliable water sources are, moving around her new home-range encouragingly well.
Left, a rhino calf named Millie is learning, with a bit of TLC, how to drink from a bottle
Beyond immediate care and anti-poaching, protecting rhino habitat, and getting local communities behind their wildlife, helps give rhino calves the best chance of survival.
Long-term, humans and rhinos need to live side by side. Find out more about our Great Land Share Project in Zimbabwe here.