A desperate drama played out at Aquila Private Game Reserve, in the western cape, after the birth of the third baby rhino in the past 3 months.
The two calves born, one in October and the other in mid-December are both thriving, but the third calf, born in the early hours of New Years Eve had to be rescued from dehydration after being rejected by its mother. To further complicate matters the calf had attached itself to the father, who is very aggressive and is making it impossible for Vets to get near the calf.
Searing temperatures in the Karoo mean that the reserve conservation team are in a race against time to uplift the calf to safety. The calf is in desperate need of nourishment and Vets on the scene were concentrating on darting the Father, which of course, comes with its own risks, so that they could reach the calf. Before this plan could be put into action the Father turned on the calf and the Conservation and Anti poaching team sprang into action and put themselves between father and calf, tw of the team managed to lift the calf into a “bakkie” and race it to safety.
The calf was born around 1am on New Years eve and was rejected by the mother, an attempt was made by the reserve team to reintroduce the calf to the mother and this failed as she once again rejected the calf.
The calf has adapted incredibly well to being bottle fed. It weighed 65 kg when rescued and at its last weigh in was topping the scale at 75kg. It is fed approximately 140ml 7 times a day, this increases as the calf gets bigger. It has a small team of dedicated Aquila staff members tending to it. It is not left alone as it tends to get anxious. The plan is to get an animal companion for it. The rearing process is a 18 month commitment from Aquila, after which it is hoped that it can be reintroduced to the rest of the group on the reserve. Until then it joins its carer for daily jogs through the bush, he is exploring the vegetation. He is very playful and we are providing it with stimulating items such as balls and tyres. He has become quite a dab hand with the football. We have also made a mud bath for it and he loves the mud rolling in the mud.
This process is being handled by ARC (Aquila Animal Rescue Centre) which is a non profit organisation set up by Aquila to care for animals in distress and also home to the Saving Private Rhino inititiative which offers anti poaching training free of charge to rangers working on private game reserves with elephant and rhino in africa. The rearing process is proving to be costly and the public have come on board to assist with the funding of this. An competition has been developed to name the rhino, prizes include overnight stays at Aquila and day visits. Entrants need to sms the word “rhino” and a suggested name for the calf to 42555. Sms cot R30. The competition ends at the end of January when a shortlist of names will be put onto face book and the public will be asked to vote for their favourite.
At 09h05 on the 13th January another calf was born at Aquila, this takes the total to 4 in the past 4 months. Mother and calf are doing well, the calf has suckled on its mother so all seems to be going according to natures plan.
To follow the development of this orphaned calf and the other 3 calves follow on facebook Aquilasafari.