Adine has had her hands full with a whole different species of animal these last few weeks. We have shared about Adine’s work in rhino rehabilitation briefly before, and while this chapter of Adine’s life has mostly been in the past, before she founded HERD, she was called on recently to return to the side of an animal species she will always love and cherish. The rhino. Rhino orphans have unfortunately had a busy season, which is always sad to see, as sanctuaries fill up with new victims of poaching or orphans displaced for other reasons.
While the HERD homestead is always busy with things to do, and elephants to care for, with our herd of 16 members, Adine has a strong team on the ground to manage the elephants’ needs while she lends a hand for a few rhino babies in need of experienced care.
Rhino calves, just like elephant calves, are extremely fragile and getting them onto milk bottles to see them through the initial stages of their young lives is complex. Rhinos are not quite as complex as elephants but their care requires a seasoned hand and heart. It can be scary to step into a small enclosure with such a large, strong animal – even as calves, rhinos and elephants are incredibly heavier and stronger than us humans.
But it’s not physical strength leading Adine as she returned to HESC – Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (the centre her mother, Lente founded to care for endangered species, situated close to HERD, in the town of Hoedspruit). Adine’s heart is with wildlife in need and her compassion and courage help her to get close to these animals, to give them the milk, comfort, kindness that they need after losing their mothers.
In particular, two new orphans have been taking up Adine’s time, and we know Khanyisa would be extremely jealous if she found out…
Firstly, there was little Bula.
Late last week, the team at HESC received a call from Dr Johan Marais, a wildlife vet who founded Saving The Survivors, and assists in treating wildlife (especially endangered species) affected by poaching or other traumatic incidents. A seven-month-old calf needed help, and they had been called in to assist. The little rhino’s mother was an old cow who could not produce enough milk to feed him, and she had since passed away. Bula, as he has now been named, would need to be taken somewhere for care and rehabilitation. He was brought through to HESC that evening.
Taking care of a baby rhino is hard work and involves round-the-clock monitoring and all hands on deck. Adine offered to assist with the new orphan, joining a nurse from Saving The Survivors and Dr Johan Marais at HESC.
Adine got stuck in trying to get Bula to take a milk bottle as the calf would need fuel and sustenance to stay strong. He was blindfolded to keep him calm, as this experience can be very traumatic for animals. Adine has continued to visit and spend time with Bula, ensuring he drinks his bottles and settles into his new life at the rehabilitation centre down the road from us at HERD.
A Second Orphan in Need
A new calf arrived, shortly after, one who would come to be called Peter. It is believed that Peter’s mom was killed by an elephant, most likely when she was protecting him. Peter is about three months old and weighs around 150 kgs. On arrival he was rather traumatised, and it took a while for him to settle down. He was also not drinking well and needed time and encouragement to take the bottle. In addition, we picked up that he started showing signs of diarrhea, which can be dangerous and even fatal for young animals. Thankfully, by giving him the correct milk formula, Adine was able to get him over this hurdle and the orphan’s condition improved. The rhino was given calmative medication to make the transition a little easier as he too settled into a new environment at HESC. A blindfold also assisted to calm him initially as well.
A Little Love from Lammie the Legend
As you will have heard and seen on our social media, we had to say goodbye to Nungu the companion sheep in October, which was a very sad moment for all of us. No doubt, especially Lammie, who enjoyed the company of Nungu for since the sheep arrived at HERD from HESC in March 2021. Nungu had helped care for little rhinos and zebra at HESC, before retiring at our elephant orphanage with Khanyisa and Lammie. But as she was losing condition in her old age and becoming weak and unable to walk, we had to put her down and say our farewells and our thank yous.
Lammie now needed company, and so we brought her over to HESC, to help with the new rhinos and to especially show another new little sheep the ropes. Little lamb, Peper is being trained to be a surrogate and rhino companion, with Lammie’s help. Lammie is an old hand when it comes to being a companion to rhinos and was a surrogate to rescued and released rhino Gertjie, among others.
We will keep you updated with news as Adine and the HESC teams continue to look after these new orphans.