Both Gertjie and Matimba are flourishing under their new found friendship. Gertjie has taken on the role of the older brother and Matimba is constantly testing his increasing strength against Gertjie’s. Gertjie allows him to get away with just about everything. Usually, just before Matimba runs off in victory, Gertjie shows that he still has what it takes and still is the bigger, stronger one. Matimba then accepts the defeat and off they go (with a smile I believe).
They both prefer the others’ company but are never mean to, or neglect their sheep companions. The 2 sheep, Lammie and Louis, are always close by grazing or catching up with the playful duo with a prance.
Here are some interesting differences between Gertjie and Matimba now and when Gertjie was the same age as what Matimba is now – 2.5 months old
- Gertjie currently weighs over 550 kg but at the age of 2.5 months he was probably just short of 100 kg. Matimba weighs 150 kg at 2.5 months old! The difference in weight is not of any concern since there are various factors that contribute to it, like genetics, quantity and richness of a rhino cow’s milk, grass availability and season of birth etc.
- At 2.5 months, Gertjie was still a wild calf walking with his mother, at the same age Matimba has already been at the Centre for nearly 2 months!
- Gertjie is now 11 months old – nearly 9 months older than Matimba!
- Gertjie currently drinks a total of 16.5 Lt milk divided in 3 feeds per day. Matimba drinks a staggering 21 Litres of milk divided in 6 feeds per day. Gertjie is already eating grass throughout the day and therefore drinks less milk than Matimba.
- They both love their mud baths, early morning walks, nap time in the sun and tickles on their tummies, but Matimba is much less interested in his human companions compared to Gertjie shortly after he arrived at the Centre. Gertjie didn’t have a rhino companion and would gladly follow his babysitters all over. Matimba on the other hand will easily choose a direction and head off on his own regardless if the babysitters are trying to lure him in a different direction or not.
- Gertjie was at first not impressed with his previous sheep companions and sometimes send them flying – thank goodness for wool that provided a soft landing! But he instantly accepted and bonded with Lammie, a completely wild and newly weaned lamb. Matimba received an orphaned lamb that has already imprinted on humans before he was brought to HESC. As a result, Louis is more interested in humans (with a bottle!) than in Matimba, but he loves sleeping closely next to Matimba and happily joins in in the morning walks. Matimba is very gentle with Louis and careful manoeuvres around him when Louis blocks the way forward.
Since bonding with Matimba, Gertjie has viewed humans as a third party and barely seeks to play with us like he use to. Most of his usual babysitters are now weary of him, mostly because of his size, but also because he does show preference towards his caretakers and are becoming less tolerant and friendly towards people in general. This, however, is very positive behaviour and proves that he will not just walk up to anybody for a ‘hug and a kiss’. Gertjie is comfortable in spending hours on his own with his companion Lammie. Human interference will be decreased even more once he is weaned and as time goes on, he too will become a wild rhino again and live a happy, natural life.