The HESC has been a hive of activity since the arrival of two new rhinos towards the end of last year. Stompie was seven months old when he arrived on the 10th of November following the brutal killing of his mother. The young calf was brought to the Centre by helicopter. He was traumatised and had an injury to his hindquarters from what is suspected to be a hyena attack, which resulted in him losing his tail.
Stompie’s wound has been treated on an ongoing basis, and is healing very well. A recent infection was quickly treated with F10 germicidal. We are watching the wound closely and keeping it clean with mebitane. Although on some days it gets a bit swollen due to the damaged sphincter, resident veterinarian, Dr. Peter Rogers, is very impressed with the improvement to his wound as it’s almost completely healed. Stompie is also picking up weight and now clocks in at 370kg. He consumes 6 bottles per day of 5 litres of formula per feeding.
Balu arrived within days of Stompie. At two weeks old, he was scrawny and barely weighed 54kg. It was thought that he may have survived on his own for a few days without his mother. Unfortunately the circumstances leading to him being orphaned are unknown.
We are also thrilled with the progress that Balu has made. He and Stompie have established a strong bond – so much so that Stompie never leaves Balu’s side. Just like Stompie, Balu gets 6 bottles of formula per day with each feed being 3.4 litres. His weight is picking up nicely and is now 120kg.
Both Stompie and Balu’s 12pm bottles have now been stopped. As Stompie grows he doesn’t need frequent feeding anymore. Although Balu’s feeding frequency has also been reduced, the quantity of his formula has been sightly increased. This is to ensure that both babies have their feeds at the same time, since they are always in each other’s company.
We’ve recently started to slowly introduce Gertjie and Matimba to Stompie and Balu. Although we were slightly anxious about how these rhinos would react to each other, we are pleased that all four seem to be adjusting well to the process and are quite relaxed around each other. For safety reasons, at around 5pm in the evening the two pairs of rhinos are taken to their respective bomas where they sleep at night. Until 26 January 2016, the two pairs would greet each other through a fence. But on the 26th they were finaly introduced face-to-face. Have a look at the clip below, and see for yourself how well it went! We will monitor their progress, and eventually aim to unite them all permanently. You’ll notice that Lammie also made a guest appearance.
Gertjie and Matimba have been doing very well, and seem happy to play the ‘big brother’ role to their younger ‘siblings’. Every morning they go to greet Stompie and Balu through the fence before going off to wander around in the bush environment for the day. Matimba is still receiving 4.2 litres of milk twice a day, and will be completely weaned off formula by April 2016. To preapare him for the weaning, as of the 1st of February he will only be getting one 8-litre bottle of milk per day.
Gertjie and Matimba’s surrogate mother, Lammie, has now retired from her role of watching over the boys. This is a clear indicator of how much these two have grown. Lammie now spends her days doing her own thing, and will occasionally wander over to the rhinos to see what they are up to. This mother did her duty well, and has earned her early retirement.
Lion’s Den and Dingle Dell
Lion’s Den and Dingle Dell are also doing very well. As these two cows are big, we’ve built a larger concrete dam for them, which they are loving! They are enjoying roaming the big space in their two camps. To keep them company, we have moved our zebra into their space, and they don’t seem to mind the ‘new striped friend’ with them.
Another rhino sadly arrived on the 18th January 2016, also the victim of a savage poaching attack. The young cow’s horn was sawn off with a chainsaw, and sustained similar injuries to Lion’s Den and Dingle Dell. On the 22nd of January she underwent her first treatment. Her road to recovery is long and painful, very much like our two other surviving victims. Sadly her mother, also darted and horn hacked off, did not make it. She was pregnant and also lost her unborn foetus. When will this travesty come to an end! We are in need of support to assist us with the exorbitant cost of her care. Interested parties can make online donations via help.hesc.co.za.
We have to thank everyone who plays a role in ensuring that the rhinos in our care are kept safe, and brought back to a state of health.
We will keep you posted as to how the rhinos in our sanctuary are keeping over the coming months via our social media platforms.
Yours in Conservation,
The HESC Team