Crisis: Zimbabwe Update March 23, 2009

Nursing Orphaned Rhino Calves Back to Health

Orphaned calves that are still nursing are given a milk powder feed with special supplements.

Orphaned calves that are still nursing are given a milk powder feed with special supplements.

Rhinos in Zimbabwe are now being specifically targeted and killed by poachers for their horns, often leaving behind calves that are still nursing and cannot survive on their own. Rhino calves are also particularly vulnerable to being caught in snares set for bushmeat. Staff from the Lowveld Rhino Trust increasingly have to rescue and hand-rear these injured and orphaned calves — ensuring the calves’ survival is vital to keep Zimbabwe’s overall rhino population growing.

Orphaned calves that are still nursing are given a milk powder feed with special supplements. Getting them acclimated to drinking a bottle from humans is a process that often takes long hours of training! Our staff also treat any injuries the calves may have received. The calves reside in fenced paddocks during the day, and are kept in secure bomas at night to protect them from poachers and other animals. As soon as they have recovered from their injuries and have been weaned, the calves are released back into the wild.

The Lowveld Rhino Trust successfully raised and released two calves in late 2008, and three orphans are currently being treated — Blondie (male), born April 2008; Millie (female), born June 2008; and Sassy (female), born July 2008. All three are doing well, and will hopefully rejoin the wild population soon!

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