Orphaned white rhino calf rescued and relocated

Care for Wild, a renowned wildlife sanctuary, rescued and relocated an 18-month-old orphaned white rhino calf. At the sanctuary, an older orphan is making sure she feels safe.

Care for Wild to the rescue

The veterinary team in Kruger National Park contacted Care for Wild to assist with the urgent rescue and relocation due to circumstances on the ground. The white rhino calf was rescued successfully.

Care for Wild explained that the calf was too big to fit inside a helicopter and a ground retrieval would have taken several hours. Therefore, due to the urgency of the matter, they decided to tranquillise the calf and fly her using specialised suspension ropes.

The operation ran smoothly thanks to an experienced pilot and a highly trained and professional veterinary team. Although this method of transportation is unconventional, it is fast and secure.

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.

What happened after the arrival?

After arriving at the helipad, staff members took the calf to the Care for Wild Juvenile Intensive Care Unit (ICU). This unit accommodates the needs of slightly older and larger orphans. Once the calf was stabilised, an initial triage process began, including taking temperature, blood glucose, and blood samples.

The treatment’s purpose is to introduce beneficial gut bacteria from the donor rhino to the orphaned calf, thereby supporting the development of a healthy microbiome and enhancing overall gut health, which is especially important during times of stress, as reported by IOL.

Nieuwoud and the Care for Wild team also performed therapeutic limb massages on the rhino calf to enhance blood circulation and help remove lactic acid, which builds up in the muscles following exertion and running.

Rescued rhino safe and bonding with new mother-figure

“Our newest orphan is stable and resting. We are so grateful to our team who are working around the clock with so much compassion and dedication to make sure this little one is ok.”

Care for Wild founder and chief executive Petronel Nieuwoud

A rhino named Dianna will likely play an important role in the rehabilitation of the rescued orphan. Dianna, who is also an orphan, is now about six years old. From a young age, she has shown a strong motherly instinct and remarkable compassion and empathy towards other orphans.

Dianna’s role could be life-saving in these early stages of the new rhino calf’s rehabilitation journey. Young orphans often struggle to adapt to life without their mothers, with some refusing to eat and falling into severe depression. The comfort and support that Dianna gives so selflessly will help this new calf settle in and feel safe again.

Once the calf was stable enough, the team introduced her to Dianna. She walked towards Dianna, calling out softly. At first the calf appeared uncertain, but Dianna’s gentle and calm demeanour helped to reassure her. Dianna slowly approached the calf and allowed her to smell her. Within a few minutes, the new calf was following Dianna, rubbing her body against her face.

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