You might not know it, but before rehabilitating elephant orphans, HERD Founder, Adine Roode dedicated her services to rhino orphans. Adine ran the rhino rehabilitation programme at HESC (Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre) for many years and was part of the rhinos’ rehabilitative journey up until HERD elephant orphanage was built, and shortly after a few of the rhino orphans were released. Adine formed a beautiful bond with friendly rhino bull, Gertjie and still has a soft spot for this survivor all these years later.

Watch this bond in motion as Adine reunites with Gertjie:

Gertjie & Matimba’s Journey

In May 2014, Gertjie, only three months old, was found next to his mother’s dead body. The Provet Wildlife Services team brought him into the care of HESC where he slowly recuperated and recovered. In November 2014, Matimba, another orphaned white rhino calf, about one month old, was rescued, having suffered the same devastating fate as Gertjie. It was evident that his mother and he were enjoying a mud bath together when the attack occurred. Gertjie and Matimba were introduced in December that year and a beautiful brotherhood began! The two rhinos become constant companions, along with their trusted sidekick, Lammie, whom you may know as Khanyisa’s companion now at HERD elephant orphanage.

Gertjie and Matimba’s extraordinary journeys both started with absolute heartache and sadness, but five-years later continue with hope, pride, love and best of all, freedom. After five years of rehabilitation and various stages of reintegration, Gertjie and Matimba were successfully released into the wild in July 2019, with an APU unit providing state of the art anti-poaching protection. Rehabilitated, healthy, confident and strong, the two rhino bulls were finally able to sustain themselves and experience life as nature intended.

In the wild, rehabilitated rhinos’ chance of procreation is far greater so this always remains the ideal, for the survival of the species. Along with Gertjie and Matimba, an additional four rhinos who were victims of poaching were taken into the care of HESC, after having had their horns hacked off and being left to die. Adine had an incredible team by her side and was instrumental in rehabilitating these rhino poaching survivors, together with: Saving the Survivors, Johan Marais, Dr Peter Rogers and Gerhard Steenkamp. All six rhinos now live wild and free again, and under the best protection possible.

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