When a baby rhino was found, she was pacing around and nuzzling her mother’s body and could not stop crying. Her mom was not moving and the poor baby had no idea why.
The baby tried to nurse but her mother’s body just lay limp. The mother had been shot and her horns were stolen by poachers, leaving the 1-month-old baby with no one else to turn to.
The rescuers from Rhino 911 were horrified when they witnessed this in a South African national park. They watched the calf guarded her mother’s body. The group then devised a plan to bring the young orphan, whom they named Charlotte, to safety.
Charlotte wore a blindfold and small caps around her ears to block noise and minimize the stress of the car ride. She was started on IV fluids right away, since she was severely dehydrated.
“She did well through the night,” rescuers said in an update the morning after. “We are grateful for the team who found her and the rescue team who responded so swiftly.”
Charlotte was timid about drinking from a bottle during the first few days, so caretakers gently worked with her to acclimate her to the new food source while she was still blindfolded.
When caretakers removed her blindfold to start getting her used to seeing people, Charlotte had the sweetest reaction.
“The team removed her blindfold in the early hours of the morning, expecting the full wrath of an angry little rhino,” caretakers said. “But instead, [we] found a lost little soul that just wanted comfort and closeness of anything with a heartbeat. Baby Charlotte called throughout the night until daybreak and snuggled up close to the carers in fact, right in between them.”
Charlotte has already formed a particularly strong bond with Mofalodi, another baby rhino who also witnessed her mother get killed by poachers in only one week at the sanctuary.
“Little Charlotte got extremely excited and just couldn’t stop running,” caretakers said about the rhinos’ first meeting. “The joy was contagious to all the human mommies keeping close watch.”
Their newfound friendship is a far cry from the pair’s uncertain fates following the death of their mothers before they were rescued. It’s common for poachers to also kill the babies before moving in to cut off their mother’s horns.
Save the Rhino, said an average of three rhinos are killed by poachers each day in South Africa because their horns are mistakenly believed to have cancer-fighting properties in traditional Asian medicine. A rhino’s horn is made up of keratin, the same material as a human fingernail and the horns are sold for an thousands of dollars on the black market.
Despite not having their moms, Charlotte and Mofalodi it’s clear they’ve become family to each other. The new friends lay in the sun together, go on long walks and even play ball.
At nighttime, they cuddle up in blankets together and quickly fall asleep.
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