“How are things with the orphaned rhino calves”
“Well, there’s good and bad news” Natalie Rogers with Rhino Revolution replied.
The Good News
The five post release orphaned rhino calves “are doing fantastically”. On March 31st, 2017 we visited the rhino orphanage to make a donation. Natalie kindly spent an hour showing us around and explaining the challenging work of saving orphaned rhino calves.
[Get a glimpse of what these tiny babies go through read “Through the eyes of a rhino calf”.]
Then last spring the five were ready to leave the orphanage and move to a 1500 hector reserve with no adult rhino or threatening predators. This transition phase was to see how they would do on their own with minimal human contact.
And even better news. The five orphaned rhino calves passed the ‘test’ and are now fully integrated into the bush. Here they roam freely, are fully self sufficient and may come in contact with other adult rhino and predators. Their growth, condition and behavior are being monitored and studied by an external rhino researcher who is very impressed by their progress relative to that of their wild counterparts.
Unlike we might suppose releasing orphaned rhino calves into the wilds is new territory. It really hasn’t been done much before this more recent rhino poaching crisis.
Heartwarming to hear that all five are doing well and thriving. However, there is more says Natalie, “In time all this information, along with any recorded interaction with the wild population, and there continued avoidance of contact with humans will determine the success of the re-introduction process. But, so far so good, we are very pleased with how they are progressing. Our ultimate happy ending is for them to have there own babies when they reach the appropriate age and for them all live a long peaceful life in the bush.”
Further good news… no newly orphaned rhino calves have been brought to the rhino orphanage of late.
The Bad News
However, this is very deceiving as we find out! “Sadly adults are still being poached.” And tragically at this time “all females are caring almost full term calves!” Natalie explains. “Therefor, I cannot report the lack of calves coming to our facility being due to a decline in poaching. It is as bad as ever!”
It takes me a second to wrap my brain around this… so the current lack of calves arriving at the orphanage is they are not being born before there mothers are killed? How tragic is this? So when we read the daily rhino poaching statistics they are really much higher when we consider the lost babies.
Think on this… The gestation period for white rhino is between 16 and 18 months. It doesn’t take much math to realize that for the majority of the year a rhino cow might be pregnant. We are not only losing a horrific number of adults, but far too many unborn little rhino.
As the seasons progress and calves are born the rhino orphanage is expecting to be called out on rescue missions. They are ready to spring into action to save the babies.
Why there’s hope
Keeping the future alive. With the rhino numbers ever decreasing Natalie and the team with Rhino Revolution are doing everything necessary to keep the five growing orphaned rhino calves safe (this sadly includes dehorning.) Security is of course no simple or cheap situation. Natalie tells us it currently costs them over R60 000 per month! That’s around $6,000! Without all of us pitching in this is an almost impossible task!
Fortunately there are many who care. Care enough to be an active part of saving the white rhino from going extinct. These growing young rhino are the hope of the future.