Poacher Attack: Through the Eyes of a Rhino Calf

As the number of rhinos killed by poachers keep rising, more traumatized orphaned calves are in need of care, Karen Trendler, Kirsten Everett.

Karen Trendler with rescued rhino calf – Photo Source: Construction Insight Magazine

Kirsten Everett takes us on a touching journey as she looks at the horrors of a poacher attack though the eyes of a young rhino calf.

My mother and I were contently filling our hungry stomachs when we heard a strange noise. I carried on eating but she smelt the air for unknown scents. I saw the terrified look in her eye before she managed to control it; the unnatural smell meant something. A few minutes later we heard the ‘whop, whop’ of a metal monster flying closer towards us. Just when my mother focussed on it the men crept out of the bushes with a crunch of sticks. Something seemed to hit her and she grunted in surprise. The birds abandoned their posts heading away from the danger. I stood helplessly as she tried to run but ended up falling to the ground. The men surrounded her and tried to chase me away. I ran forward scared enough to not care about the men as they had done something to my mother, I needed her and they must go away.

Out of nowhere one of the big men spun on me and hit me hard with something sharp. Blood oozed from my wound as my mother answered my cry for help with a weak beg, ‘Away, away’. I backed away nursing my wound, how could I get to her?? She grunted again so I didn’t give up. I ran forward again but this time the angry man was merciless, determined to get his message across. As quietly as possible I took the cuts to my poor head trying not to worry my mother even more.

Confused I backed away into the bushes calling to her to get up, but the eerie silence dragged on and she didn’t move a muscle. Fear glued me to the floor as I felt my young heart pulsing with anger and fear. A breeze blew, as I waited for the monsters to go so I could go to my poor mommy and find out what was wrong. My heart skipped a beat when I realised this was what my cousin had gone through only a full moon ago. It was terrible, my body couldn’t stop shaking and I couldn’t think clearly, I felt lightheaded from all my blood loss.

Finally when the monsters left I ran to her side, ‘Mom wake up.’ My voice cracked with emotion but still she didn’t respond. I took a step back and saw the pool of blood. Her horn had been brutally cut off and she lay lifeless. Above me a crow flew over.

I turned to run then I asked myself some important questions… where would I go? I wasn’t old enough to know the way to the dam yet. Who would protect me from predators? The truth was that I wasn’t strong enough to survive by myself yet. Would I be with my mother in the sky sooner than I thought? The last question scared me the most; out in the wild without my mother I might just be able to survive a week.

I heard the snap of a twig, I wasn’t alone. This time I didn’t have the strength to care what these humans wanted with me. I collapsed and slept for a few hours. I was almost completely unconscious though I sensed kindness near me. Too traumatised to do anything I lay as they treated my wounds. The people who tried to comfort me planted a seed of hope. Hope that I could survive and hope that the rest of the human race would come to its senses and help my species and all the others out there.

Let’s stop the babies’ cries! Let’s save the last rhino!

Written by Kirsten Everett. Based loosely on the story of “Ntombi” who was rescued by Karen Trendler and her team.

 Karen Trendler’s Rhino Orphanage

Update (July 31, 2013): This is Ntombi feeling good and playful

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12 Responses to Poacher Attack: Through the Eyes of a Rhino Calf

  1. gloria sapp April 11, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

    tears fall as i read but story so true that it needs to be shared widely.Thank you

    • Wildlife Margrit April 11, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

      Thanks Gloria, yes the story does need to be shared, thanks for your support.

  2. Cady April 12, 2013 at 7:54 pm #

    I was so touched with this story that I was close to tears. How can people be so heartless, not only to kill a beautiful animal for such a cruel reason, but to give so many babies a death sentence? Breaks my heart.
    Cady

    • Wildlife Margrit April 12, 2013 at 9:12 pm #

      Thanks for commenting Cady. Yes it is a heartbreaking story… unfortunately it is an almost daily tragedy.

  3. Marlies Gabriel April 13, 2013 at 8:04 am #

    This is well written and the way forward. We have to humanise our wild animals to bring their stories, feelings, emotions across to the human heart and finally to our brains to start to act.
    It’s an animal genocide happening in Africa! There is no difference to a human genocide.
    It’s a great idea to start to tell their story ( the rhinos, elephants, lions, leopard and all other African animals being slauthered daily ) through their eyes and our voices to shake up those that are blind, death and speechless. Please carry on…

    • Wildlife Margrit April 13, 2013 at 7:47 pm #

      Thanks for your comment Marlies. Appreciate your insights and your encouragement.

  4. Robyn Stark April 14, 2013 at 6:10 am #

    Oh Kirsty It’s so well written, and touching
    It’s sad how true it is, you almost made me cry
    It’s heart breaking

  5. Malcolm Suttill April 15, 2013 at 4:51 am #

    Rhino poaching is terrible However the question is not that it is terrible but if anything can really be done about it. If you equate this to being like the world’s drug problem then the difficulty is clear to see. Big money is involved and that is difficult to change.
    I believe stopgaps like re fencing the border with Mozambique, shaming our Government into more active prevention measures etc. would slow things down. However when you have very poor people and large offers of money even the very real possibility of being killed will not stop poaching.
    Where does that leave us? I believe the idea of feeding the market by farming rhino horn needs some serious consideration. Would this bring down the price? Maybe but it musn’t just pass profits on to middlemen!
    Oh and I’m not against the idea of poisoning horns. If it is illegal to consume horn then if people get really ill doing this, hard luck! The trouble here is it means possible harmful darting never mind the complications in an area as big as Kruger.

    • Wildlife Margrit April 15, 2013 at 11:35 am #

      You are so right Malcom, big money is involved. That’s why it is sad that the SA government is not doing more. However, as this is the case we as citizens of the planet need to do what we can to stop the killing, not only of the rhino, but all wildlife. There are multiple avenues and schools of thought.

      Ours at NIKELA is basically two fold: 1) Protect now to curb the killing and 2) Educate to stop the demand.
      The former we do via Peter and his team at SPOTS http://www.nikela.org/portfolio/stop-rhino-poachers-with-thermal-camera-uav
      and the latter via the social networks with stories like this one.

  6. Gina Boxley April 18, 2013 at 8:12 am #

    BEAUTIFULLY written Kirsten. WE HAVE TO STOP THE KILLING. Keep up the pressure and the amazing work. It breaks my heart to see how incredibly destructive and cruel the human race can be.

    • Wildlife Margrit April 18, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

      Thanks Gina for taking time to comment… agreed Kirsten did a fine job telling a heartbreaking tale.

  7. Gina Boxley April 18, 2013 at 8:12 am #

    BEAUTIFULLY written Kirsten. WE HAVE TO STOP THE KILLING. Keep up the pressure and the amazing work. It breaks my heart to see how incredibly destructive and cruel the human race can be.

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