Orphanage How to support Rhino conservation this World Rhino Day
Photo Credit: On File

Not all rhino orphans are due to poaching; sometimes, the mom just isn’t equipped to deal with a calf; that is why Shamara ended up at The Rhino Orphanage.


Undisclosed Location, South Africa (14 September 2021) – The Rhino Orphanage takes care of all the calves left behind due to poaching. These young rhinos often need 24-hour specialised care, which is why they are taken from the wild and cared for at the orphanage. They would not survive out in the wild on their own.

However, sometimes a rhino calf is orphaned for another reason. The Rhino Orphanage took in Shamara earlier this week after her own mother abandoned her. Sadly this can happen when a new mother feels underequipped to care for a rhino calf.

If natural resources are low, they will abandon the calf and care for themselves. As horrible as it sounds, it is one of those sad realities that makes nature so cruel. In this case, the rhino cow was a young first-time mother caught in a dry season and her milk drying up too soon. Her inexperience is what led to the abandonment.

Thankfully, the rangers at the reserve where the abandonment took place stepped in when they saw Shamara’s condition deteriorating and called the orphanage for help.

“They contacted our vet and dr Pierre made the decision to send the calf to the Orphanage. When she was tranquilized, her mother did not even try to defend the little one and walked away. Like she knew what had to be done.

Our team is working hard to get the baby drinking and calm, as she doesn’t understand what has happened and she is extremely hungry on top of it. Please keep her in your thoughts tonight. Fingers crossed that she hasn’t reverted to eating sand as these little ones so often do.”

From the updates so far, little Shamara is doing well and drinking loads of healthy, nutritious formula. The teams estimate that she is about 3 to 4 months old.

Last night was her first night at the orphanage, and while she was naturally a bit restless, she took well to taking the fluids provided to her via bottle from her new handler.

“Our new little girl had a restless night but she is drinking like a little champion. Our carers have already removed the IV line as she is taking in a lot of fluids via her bottles, mainly electrolytes to start off with and gradually moving on to a weak milk solution. As the formula is foreign to her gut it needs to be introduced slowly over the next couple of days, working up to full strength milk. Her earplugs are out as well so she can hear the soft, soothing voices of her carers.

Her reserve has aptly named her Shamara, meaning the Strong One. The next step will be to remove her blindfold and win her trust completely.

As this is yet another little mouth to feed we have left open our Feed and Milk drive campaign.”

If you would like to contribute towards her food bill, you can assist the orphanage by donating here.

“With the current state of affairs in South Africa, unprecedented riots and looting affecting deliveries and availability of many commodities, we are trying to secure milk and feed supplies until at least the end of November for our rhino babies.  

We simply can not afford to run out of milk or feed for these orphans, with 6 milk dependent babies relying on the orphanage currently and many more needing teff (hay) and formulated game pellets.  We are going through 2200 litres (484 gallons) of milk (233kg/513lbs of powder) per month now  and poaching is still happening daily in some areas.  We do not know when more orphans will arrive at the orphanage.

Our rhinos drink a specially developed milk replacement and get special formulated game pellets in order to give them all the nutrients they need to grow strong and healthy.  It is also winter and the dry season takes its toll on all the rhinos if we do not provide additional supplement feed.  We just can’t run out.”

Take a look at Shamara finishing her first bottle below.

Sources:  Rhino Orphanage
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About the Author

Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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