Photo Credit: The Rhino Orphanage

7-month-old Rhino orphan Duane is settling in at the Rhino Orphanage after witnessing the horrific poaching of his mother – he is now making a new friend.


Undisclosed Location, South Africa (30 June 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.

Many of the rhino calves at the orphanage form bonds with each other and turn to each other for comfort. The orphanage aims to do bonded pairs because it makes the process easier for the orphans as they mourn the loss of their mothers.

The most recent pairing has been between two new orphans named Duane and Robynne. Duane arrived at the orphanage last week. He is around 7 months old and he has been left shell-shocked and terrified of humans.

“The little boy was besides himself, fighting in the trailer the entire night. Our vet dr Pierre came to assist with the offloading early on Saturday. The blindfolded baby was placed on an IV line as dehydration is the norm. It is suspected that he was alone for around 2 days.

Our carers worked around the clock to try and get little Duane on milk and finally around 1am on Sunday morning he took the bottle. His blindfold was removed on Sunday afternoon but the traumatized calf did not tolerate any humans in with him. Our carers kept on trying to give him milk and luckily he is drinking through the barrier.”

It didn’t take long for the little calf to accept human love though, once he was fed and calmed, he learned he could trust some humans.

The team have done all the tests and concluded that Duane is in good health. He has started his next step and that is joining a playmate.

Robynne has been at the orphanage a little longer but she had not yet found herself a playmate. She had a bit of trouble at first, being spooked by some of her more boystress neighbours but Robynne found her match in Duane.

Robynne is a sensitive soul, and she is now permanently scared of Mapimpi and much happier and relaxed away from the other two orphans. Subsequently it has been decided that Robynne will be introduced to newest arrival Duane. They are more equilly matched in size allthough Robynne is roughly 5 months older than Duane. Fingers crossed

The match was a success! They were introduced and it turned out, Duane was a little more nervous than Robynne.

“Duane was extremely scared of her and kept on bellowing, mock charging and being defensive. Robynne stood her ground however as she felt more brave with the “stranger” being slightly smaller than her. She was very inquisitive at first but soon became hesitant as Duane kept going for her. Our carers eventually got both babies to lie down and sleep a few feet from each other and it seems like it will take some convincing for them to warm up. There were a few instances that they touched faces nervously without aggression”

After a short while, the pair started leaning on each other for support. They are still a little nervous, but before long, they will be fast friends.

“After an intense start, the two babies have calmed down a little, allthough mr Duane is still a little mean, huffing and chasing his new companion out the room. He is especially cranky before milk time but little Robynne has stood her ground too. They have been sharing the overnight room & daytime boma and our carers have taken a few sneaky photos. When a human mom is in the vicinity both play hard to get and Robynne keeps close to them. But when no-one is near the babies can’t resist each other’s company.”

You can find out more about their individual stories via the orphanage’s Facebook page here.

Sources: The 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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