Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre began in 1991 when a game farm owner and wildlife enthusiast Brian Jones decided to care for a crowned eagle which is an endangered species. Shortly after, a baby zebra was brought in who needed care, and Jones soon began the centre to care for injured, abandoned and poisoned animals with hopes of rehabilitating them and releasing them safely back into their natural habitats. The nonprofit organization now not only cares for a variety of wildlife including lion, cheetah, leopard, hyena, zebra and vultures, it also breeds endangered species such as the crowned eagle to get their numbers back up in the wild.
When a rescue party is put together for an animal, particularly a white rhino that is at risk, Jones is the one who is sent along with a team of staff members. The white rhino is not only the second largest mammal weighing up to two tons, it is an endangered species. At one time, there were actually thirty different kinds of rhinos, and the white rhino sadly is now only one of five rhino species. Of all the species, the white rhino is said to be the most calm and sociable, but that doesn’t mean he won’t pose a risk if he feels threatened.
In the beginning of this year, the rehab centre got a call from a local game park saying there was a baby rhino wondering around without her mother which is extremely unusual. Brian along with a team from Moholoholo immediately took off to check it out and upon arrival discovered the rhino had been born the day before and had then been abandoned by her mother. The only real concern as they checked her out was that her feet weren’t properly formed; besides that, she seemed quite healthy.
This type of deformity is usually caused by a premature birth which in this case was brought on by stress in the mother rhino due to being moved from one farm to another. When a mother rhino ignores her baby, it’s usually because she can somehow sense that there is a deformity of some sort. For this reason the Moholoholo staff would have assumed a major health problem to be the cause of the mother’s rejection; however, knowing the mother was captured and moved recently gave them hopes that it was only the mother’s stress rather than the baby’s health which caused her abandonment.
After finding the white rhino, the team promptly offered her some milk which she drank rapidly, as she hadn’t received any milk from her mother. This helped her to become comfortable with the strangers around her, and she actually seemed content in their midst after her belly was full. Surprisingly, she didn’t seem nervous as the staff monitored her for awhile to see that her digestive system was working. After that, they were happily on their way for her new temporary home at Moholoholo where she could receive the proper care.
Caring for a baby rhino can be just as exhausting as caring for a baby human if there is not a team in place. The Moholoholo team had to make sure she was eating every two hours and protect her from sucking on anything filthy that could harm her delicate system. They even had to take constant urine samples to make sure she was being properly nourished – since she had been denied her mother’s milk. Forty-six kilograms may seem like a huge baby, but when one learns that a rhino weighs at least five hundred kilograms by the time it reaches two years, it’s no wonder a baby rhino has to eat at two hour intervals. Although it’s an extremely demanding task to take care of this little rhino, the Moholoholo team is overjoyed at her arrival and is still trying to find a name to suit her best.
Learn more about animal rehabilitation in South Africa. Stop by Moholoholo’s site where you can find out all about abandoned and injured wild animals taken care of at Moholoholo Animal Rehabilitation Centre.