Rhino Calf Can't Sleep Alone After Poachers Kill His Mother

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Gertjie, a 4-month-old rescued rhino, refuses to spend his nights alone since he watched poachers attack and kill his mother in May. The orphaned calf was found crying inconsolably next to his mother's mutilated body in South Africa.


Poachers attacked Gertjie's mother at the Kapama Private Game Reserve in South Africa, and took her horn. Leaving her to die, the poachers fled before rangers arrived on the scene. Gertjie could not be calmed, and the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC) was called in for help.

"It was a devastating sight, as the tiny animal would not leave her side, and was crying inconsolably for her," the HESC said in a blog post.

Gertjie was brought to the HESC, and has been slowly recovering under the watchful eye of the staff and a self-appointed surrogate mother, a ewe named Skaap.

As Gertjie adjusts to life without his mother, he takes two long walks daily, and loves having mud baths. However, Gertjie refuses to sleep alone, so the HESC staff takes turns spending the night with him and feeding him fat-free milk every three hours.

The HESC is accepting donations for Gertjie's care because the rhino calf will not be weaned off milk until he is over a year old. The staff will continue to care for Gertjie until he is ready to be reintroduced into a wildlife reserve.

"The HESC has seen a number of injured and orphaned animals successfully rehabilitated over the years, and we are hopeful that this will be another happy ending," the HESC's blog said.

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