On Saturday 21 May 2016 at 08:30, Tom Coetzee from Thornybush Nature Reserve was radio’d from a ranger out on a game drive with news that a lone white rhino calf had been spotted. The calf was in distress and appeared to have blood on its face. On arrival, Tom and his team trailed the calf through the bush, but lost it after encountering a leopard close by. The smell of carrion in the air suggested that the leopard may have had a kill. They detoured, but continued the search. To their surprise, the leopard was staying close to the carcass of the calf’s mother.
After two hours of searching, one of the Anti-Poaching Unit team members noticed the calf, more or less in the same spot as it had been earlier that morning. Fortunately Dr Rogers had already joined them, so he quickly immobilised the little rhino. The calf was then brought to HESC where she was stabilised, and Tom and his team handed her over to our team.
A helicopter had, in the interim, arrived in the area and located the carcass of the mother with her horns still intact. She appeared to have been dead for about three days, and the blood on the little calf was from lying down next to her mother’s body. The baby rhino also had minor bite wounds on her back, possibly from a hyena attack.
During the necropsy on the dead rhino, an entry wound was found with a large calibre projectile located in her abdomen. It is hard to say how long she survived with the wound, but all indications are that she survived quite a number of days before she died.
Khulula (which means ‘to rescue’ or ‘set free’ in Zulu), estimated to be about four months old, took well to the bottle from the onset. Curators, Christo and Linri, took turns feeding her and she would go to sleep after each feed. She is drinking 1,9 litres, seven times a day, which totals 13.3 litres per day. She weighs 136 kilograms.
We tried introducing her to Olivia, but noticed that she was not yet ready. However, we’ve set up a small opening between the two to acclimatise our new arrival to Olivia’s scent. Khulula passed dung on Monday, which is a great sign and shows that she has no interior obstructions.
We are pleased with Khulula’s condition at the moment. She is improving in our care, and doesn’t appear to be in any pain from the scrapes on her back. We will keep you posted as to her progress.
If you can and would like to make a donation towards the rhinos in the Rescued Rhinos @ HESC sanctuary, visit our online portal. Alternatively go to PayPal, click on ‘send’, add the WCT email address email@example.com, choose the amount you’d like to contribute and click ‘continue’.