After hunters poached a female rhinoceros for her horn, the rhino’s baby, only about three months old, was found alongside her body.
On May 7, members of the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC) in South Africa found the baby “crying inconsolably” by his mother’s side.
Staff sedated the rhino, and brought him back to the HESC, which focuses on the conservation of rare, vulnerable or endangered animals.
Shortly after discovering the rhino, the center released a statement in which they noted that the baby rhino was believed to have been born on or around February 19, and stated that the baby’s mother “had been tragically and brutally poached for her horn.
“It was a devastating sight, as the tiny animal would not leave her side, and was crying inconsolably for her,” the statement added.
Gertjie the rhino was not alone on his first night in the center: he was joined by a human and a sheep called Skaap.
Skaap, who acts as the surrogate mother to animals in the center, not only spends time in Gertjie’s room, but also “cleans up after him from time to time.”
Now almost four months old, Gertjie is being weaned off night feeds. Staff have, up to this point, been sleeping outside of his room to ensure that he is fed at regular three-hour intervals.
The rhino, nicknamed “Little G”, is gaining strength through daily walks.
The center has even set up a live channel so that people can watch Gertjie “taking long walks, [having] mud baths and grazing.”
Baby rhinos are not weaned off of milk until they are between 15 and 18 months old; the team is now asking for donations to ensure they have enough fat-free milk in stock to feed the young rhino. The young animal already weighs over 242 pounds and drinks roughly 1.5 liters of a fat-free milk powder, vitamin, glucose and hot water concoction eight times a day.
Staff have said that Gertjie will be cared for by HESC until he is ready to be reintroduced into a wildlife reserve.
Photo Source: Independent