It’s incredible to think the Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre has now been around for over twenty years. In 1991, a group of people passionate about wildlife decided to start the centre when they saw the great need for a place where animals and birds could be nursed back to health in order to be introduced to the wild when they were ready. Brian Jones was a key part of starting the centre and was already caring for a crowned eagle before the centre even began. Soon after the centre started to come together, a baby zebra was brought to the team for care as well. Since that time, countless animals and birds which were hurt, deserted or poisoned have been rehabilitated back into their natural habitats.
Jones is often called upon to pick up the animals who are at risk as was recently the case with a baby white rhino. Incase you’re not familiar with this species, the white rhinoceros is second in size out of all mammals. Only the elephant is bigger than this gigantic creature which weighs more than two tons and stands nearly six feet tall. At one time, there were more than thirty kinds of rhinos, but unfortunately today there are only five species – all classified as endangered. White rhinos tend to dwell in a small herd which is generally very protective of one another if an outsider poses a threat; however, the white rhino happens to be the most docile and friendly of all the rhino species.
Moholoholo’s recent rhino addition was rescued earlier this year when a baby white rhino was found by an employee at a nearby game park. It seemed as if the mother had chosen to disregard her baby. After Moholoholo received the call from the game park, a group of staff went immediately with Brian to save the young rhino who was about an hour’s drive away. After reaching the rhino, the staff could see that this baby female was not even twenty-four hours old yet, and her feet were mildly deformed.
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.
There were no other health problems found – except for the fact that this baby rhino was hungry! She devoured the milk that the staff gave her and warmed up to the team immediately. She didn’t show the normal skittish behavior a rhino would normally show when surrounded by people. After the staff made sure she was eating well and passing waste easily, they took great joy in taking her into the rehab centre to raise her in such a way that he can enter the wild again one day.
Because a baby rhino has to eat every two hours, one could say that it’s just as challenging to care for a baby rhino as it is to care for a baby human if not more so. When you think of how a baby rhino goes from about forty-six kilograms to five hundred kilograms in the first two years of life, there’s no wondering why so much eating is required! In addition to the feeds, the caregivers also had to keep her from eating or sucking on anything that was dirty because of her system still being so fragile. Of course taking care of a baby rhino is a huge commitment, but the team at Moholoholo takes great satisfaction in such a rewarding work. To them, there’s nothing like seeing an animal restored back to strength and then released back into the wild.
Looking to find information on animal rehabilitation in South Africa, then visit www.moholoholo.co.za to get updates on abandoned and injured wild animals taken care of at Moholoholo Animal Rehabilitation Centre.