Crisis Zimbabwe Update – May 4, 2009

Meet the Orphans – Part 2

Millie was orphaned at four months when her mother drank from a poisoned natural water source.

Millie, a young female orphan, was born in May 2008; Millie can be identified by her small and odd shaped front horn. Millie was orphaned at three months old on the 30th August 2008 after her mother Hada died after drinking from a poisoned water source in the Save Valley Conservancy.

Rhinos are very habitual creatures and will drink regularly from the same water source. The poachers knew rhino were drinking at this particular spring and poisoned it with cyanide. The level of toxicity was such that birds were dying in the water. Many cattle, belonging to the nearby villagers, also died. It was villagers looking for their cattle that found Hada’s carcass and her small three month old calf. The calf was darted and captured that day and transported so she could be raised with the other young rhino orphan – Blondie.

Millie meets Blondie for the first time.

Millie meets Blondie for the first time.

Millie proved to be an incredibly gentle beast. Generally, before a calf has learnt to take milk willingly they need to be physically restrained by up to six men so the milk bottle can be forced into the calf’s mouth to feed. Millie possibly suffered slight poisoning and was very slow to take to the bottle. Millie never required any restraint and always approached anyone entering her pen, but for days showed no serious interest in suckling and the milk had to be practically pumped into her mouth. She was always more interested in physical contact than feeding and would fall asleep content against the person patiently trying to get her to suckle. Once Millie was taking the bottle, it was time to introduce her to Blondie as black rhinos are sociable creatures and need company. It was not love at first sight for Millie, who screamed at Blondie till he went back to his corner of the pen and lay down in defeat. It was a different picture by the next day and the two hardly let a meter of space develop between them.

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