Gertjie is a household name for countless animal lovers around the world. This special rhino opened the hearts and the eyes of the world, to the harsh reality of rhino poaching.
At just under three months old, he witnessed the brutal murder of his mother, by rhino poachers. Not only did he have to watch the horrific attack, but was then left all on his own, next to her lifeless body, with no one to protect him, and no one to console him.
He was found on the 7th May 2014, and brought to HESC straight away for care, love and rehabilitation. This video shows some of the scenes as he arrived:
Our team of staff were ready to put every ounce of energy into looking after this petrified baby rhino, who needed 24hour care, and was too scared to be left alone at anytime. Luckily it did not take long until he drank milk from our head curator at the time, Christo.
Just one week later, Gertjie was feeling brave enough to go on his first long walk to explore the centre grounds, and we caught the moments on camera:
Soon he was introduced to Lammie, a pedi lamb, who became his best friend, and never left his side. The two of them, the most unusual of friends, became a symbol for many around the world, that friendships should know no barriers.
This video of Lammie and Gertjie below, was shared worldwide, though most people mistook Lammie for a goat! It was a beautiful moment on video, of them play footing around one another. A sheep trying to be a rhino, and a rhino trying to be a sheep. A fond memory for all of us.
Six months after Gertjie arrived at HESC, another orphaned rhino was brought to our centre, a tiny young male who’s mother had suffered the same fate as Gertjie’s, at the hand of poachers. He was named Matimba.
Matimba and Gertjie were eventually introduced, and from that day on, they have been inseparable. Gertjie took on the role as Matimba’s big brother. We speculate that they have a common empathy to one another’s grief, that none of us can fully comprehend, as their bond has been incredibly strong, with a deep connection.
Many people around followed their every move, where possible in their room, viewed on the hidden infrared camera’s kindly supplied by AFRICAM.
Gertjie and Matimba, forever rhino friends.
On the 22nd September 2015, Gertjie was officially weaned, and was no longer reliant on this daily bottle feedings. He was able to forage, and enjoy teff as an added supplement. It was an emotional step for all of us at the centre.
Four years later, and Gertjie has grown up to be a strong and beautiful young rhino bull. It has been a long journey, but it felt like just yesterday that he arrived, and changed many people’s lives.
Gertjie now lives side by side with Matimba, as well as Dingle Dell and Lions Den, on their own piece of land at HESC. They all live harmoniously, and HESC day visitors often seem them as they pass through on their tour vehicle with their guide.
See them in this recent video, the four brave rhino’s, each having survived horrible ordeals, but all now rehabilitated, and in a place of love and safety.
As World Rhino Day 2018 nears, we are reminded of the thousands of rhino lives that have been lost, and celebrate the ones we have managed to rescue and rehabilitate, Gertjie being one of the latter.
We also take the time to give thanks to every single one of the public, that have followed Gertjie’s story, and given us support, both emotionally and financially. We 100% could not have done it alone. THANK YOU.
Looking back at memories of Gertjie:
If you would like foster Gertjie’s to assist with his ongoing daily costs, please click HERE.