AN EIGHT-year-old boy has raised R10 000 towards ensuring a recently orphaned rhino calf is kept warm, safe and loved.
Hunter Mitchell, of Somerset West, decided to raise money in accordance with his New Year’s resolution to contribute towards the calf’s rearing when he learnt that its mother had rejected and abandoned it soon after birth.
Hunter’s mother, Lynley Mitchell, said her family had been following the progress of the calf through media reports.
“The idea (of Hunter raising the money) came about on January 1, the day after the orphaned calf was born. My husband had made the comment that we shouldn’t be complaining about what we had, or wanted, but looking for ways to help others,” said Mitchell.
She said Hunter initially decided to raise R1 000 in response to a plea from Aquila Private Game Reserve, where the rhino was born.
Her family had helped him set up a Facebook page, as well as a fund-raising page on a well-known New Zealand website, for relatives and friends to follow his progress, she added.
“Every morning he would wake to check his total and eagerly check back for any updates he could share on his page on how his little (rhino) buddy was doing.
“He sent out messages to his friends who were still away on holiday, and it was even more exciting when they would want to help too, by donating Christmas or pocket money.”
According to Mitchell, the final amount raised by Hunter on the day of the official donation handover stood at R9 520, with Aquila vet Dr Doempies Taljaard, from Tulbagh, adding R480, bringing the total to R10 000.
Hunter thanked the contributors by sending them personalised digital rhino artwork, said Mitchell.
The reserve’s owner, Searl Derman, gave Hunter a certificate – making him an honorary game ranger – and invited him, his parents and two brothers to meet the orphaned rhino.
“The moment when he first laid eyes on the rhino was very touching. They spent about one-and-a-half hours together,” said Mitchell.
Judy Mannering, marketing manager for the reserve, said contributions from Hunter’s campaign were still pouring in.
She said more contributions were needed for security and a boma to house the calf, its carers and animal companions.