Danielle Fryday shares the heartwarming story of rhino orphans and their dedicated ‘rhino mums’.
Amidst the global challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change, it is heartening to see more people stepping up to support wildlife and the natural environment. Many do this through making more eco-friendly choices, and some apply their expertise to environmental initiatives through their work or volunteering. And then there are the individuals on the front line of nature preservation, for whom conservation is far more than a job – it’s their calling and life commitment.
In the remote South African veld you’ll find some of the best humans on the planet – the passionate and dedicated team at The Rhino Orphanage. The Rhino Orphanage was established in 2012 as the world’s first orphanage dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, raising and release of orphaned rhinos back into the wild.
In nature rhinos stay with their mums for the first three years of life – so when a female rhino is poached, their calf is left alone and helpless. The Rhino Orphanage provides a safe haven and second chance for these precious babies, with the ‘rhino mums’ providing round-the-clock care to gain each orphan’s trust and help them overcome the trauma they have experienced. The team has raised rhinos from the age of two days old, providing the critical care, love and comfort to meet every rhino’s individual needs and personality. Raising and rehabilitating orphan rhinos is a long-term commitment, with daily care provided until around two years old, followed by reintegration support until they can be released back into the wild at four to five years of age.
Poaching and the illegal wildlife trade are the greatest threats to rhino survival. Demand for rhino horn is driven by myths of its medicinal properties and use in traditional medicine. Rhino horn is made of keritin, the same as human fingernails and hair, and there is no scientific evidence of any medicinal value. The poaching crisis ignited in 2010 and has not abated. Some data on the number of rhinos poached each year suggests a downward trend; however the reality is that while the total rhino population has decreased, the percentage of rhinos poached year on year has not.
As the Rhino Orphanage team says, every rhino matters. That’s why they do what they do – dedicating their lives to the survival of these innocent victims of illegal poaching, and to preventing the extinction of Africa’s unicorns. If you care about rhinos and want to help ensure the next generation can see them in the wild, not just in history books, support this incredible organisation through donation, rhino adoption, or if you’re up for an adventure, join them on the volunteer experience of a lifetime! Visit: https://therhinoorphanage.org/help-save-rhinos/