In the early twentieth century, it’s estimated there were about 500,000 rhinos throughout Africa and Asia. Because of poaching, their numbers have been rapidly dwindling over the years. The black rhino was killed for its horns so aggressively, it was actually declared extinct in 2011. According to Save the Rhino, South Africa is home to 83% of Africa’s rhinos and 73% of all wild rhinos worldwide.
Unfortunately, this last haven for rhinos has also been experiencing poaching. The rhino poaching situation is reaching a crisis point.
A few rangers were patrolling a wildlife preserve in South Africa when they came across a rhino carcass. The animal was killed by poachers for her horn. Hiding beside her body was something they weren’t expecting: a tiny baby rhino. He was extremely distraught and wouldn’t stop crying.
They named the rhino Gertjie and gently took him away from his mother.
They covered his eyes, as to not frighten him too badly, and tried to rehydrate him on their way back from the Kapama Private Game Reserve.
Gertjie was then transported to the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre.
There, he was given a safe home where he could be raised. He’s just under 3 months old.
Even though Gertjie experienced a very traumatic event in his young life, the rangers who found him gave him a chance to grow up to be a normal rhino. Here you can see Gertjie getting to experience his first joyful trot around his new home.
He drinks about 12 liters of fat-free milk a day as a growing baby rhino.
Those working with Gertjie at the center are attempting to teach him to be a rhino, just like his mother would. He took quite well to their “mud bath” lesson.
Snuggling with his caretakers is also something the baby rhino loves doing.
He’ll stay at the center until he is old enough to be released back into the wild, where hopefully he can live safely.
Even though the people looking after him hope that he will grow up to be a big, strong, rhino, they are enjoying the time they have with Gertjie. Who wouldn’t enjoy giving this sweetheart a mud bath?
Or having a cuddle with him after a long day? After all, pretty soon he’ll be too big for that kind of thing.
Hopefully, the authorities on the wildlife preserves will be able to put a stop to poaching. Otherwise, soon the number of rhino deaths per year will greatly outnumber the rhino births. These beautiful creatures are facing a terrible fate. To support the organization that helps orphaned endangered animals like Gertjie, please visit the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Center website.
You can also visit the World Wildlife Fund if you’d like to help conservation efforts.
Please share this article and raise awareness of this troubling poaching issue all over the world.