LOOK: Orphaned white rhino calf settling into her new life at sanctuary

In an update on the orphaned white rhino calf, Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary said the 18-month-old is settling into her new life. | Screenshot.

In an update on the orphaned white rhino calf, Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary said the 18-month-old is settling into her new life. | Screenshot.

Published Jul 7, 2024


Durban — The orphaned white rhino calf that was recently rescued and flown to Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary after contact was made by the veterinary team in the Kruger National Park (KNP) is settling into her new life.

On Wednesday, Care for Wild said: “One week after her rescue, our newest orphan is settling into her new life.”

Care for Wild said it is a complex process with a long road of rehabilitation and dedication ahead, but she is making good progress.

“She quickly began grazing on natural grass and after watching and copying Dianna and Bavati, started eating supplementary teff and Lucerne. A huge relief!” Care for Wild said.

Care for Wild said now that the calf, aged 8 months, is eating well, caregivers will begin introducing a small amount of pasty milk powder on the Lucerne.

“This will allow them to administer important supplements and medication to counter gastric ulcers, which rhino orphans are particularly sensitive to during times of high stress. Given this new calf’s love for Lucerne and with Dianna’s help, we hope that this will be a relatively quick process. She is such a beautiful and special girl,” Care for Wild said.

Last week, the veterinary team in the KNP contacted Care for Wild to assist with the urgent rescue of the calf.

Since the calf was too big to fit inside the helicopter and a ground retrieval would have taken several hours, the decision was made to tranquillise the calf and fly her directly to Care for Wild using specialised suspension ropes. With an experienced pilot and a highly trained and professional veterinary team, this method of transportation is fast and very safe.

Care for Wild founder and chief executive Petronel Nieuwoud maintained communications via a ground-to-air radio throughout the journey and the Care for Wild team was waiting at the helipad as they flew in.

After arriving at the helipad, Care for Wild’s newest rescued orphan was immediately driven to the Juvenile Intensive Care Unit, purpose-built to accommodate the needs of slightly older and larger orphans. Once stabilised, an initial triage process began, including taking temperature, blood glucose, and blood samples. She was given intravenous fluids and rectal fluids containing fresh faeces from a healthy rhino.

Therapeutic limb massages were also performed to enhance blood circulation and help remove lactic acid, which builds up in the muscles following exertion and running.

Care for Wild said a special rhino named Dianna will likely play an important role in rehabilitating the rescued orphan.

When the rhino calf was introduced to Dianna, it walked towards Dianna, calling out softly. Even though the calf appears uncertain, Dianna’s gentle and calm demeanour helps reassure her. Dianna slowly approached the calf and allowed her to smell her. She then demonstrated to Bavati how to greet the new orphan with calmness and reassurance. Within minutes, the new calf was following Dianna, rubbing her body against her face. Within hours, she had joined Dianna and Bavati in the night pen.

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