Heartbreaking moment baby rhino protects mother’s body after being attacked by loggers for its horns
A baby rhino that was pictured standing next to his dead mother’s carcass after she was slaughtered by poachers last week bravely paired up with another orphan to survive before being rescued.
The traumatised five-month-old calf, who witnessed his mother being brutally murdered for her horn, became a heartbreaking symbol of the rhino poaching crisis in South Africa after the photo was posted online.
Now, an exclusive photograph shows what became of the baby before it was rescued and taken to an orphanage.
The little bull was forced to team up with a nine-month-old orphaned calf whose mother was also killed at the same private farm during the massacre of nine rhinos on the first weekend of July.
The pair, who need their mothers’ milk, were found severely dehydrated after surviving on sand and grass until they were rescued and moved to an orphanage last week.
By pairing up they managed to avoid being attacked by predators such as jackals and hyenas, which target babies that remain next to their dead mothers’ carcasses.
They were spotted from a helicopter running together by wildlife television presenter and filmmaker Bonné de Bod and their farmer, who called the vet to come and take them to an orphanage.
‘It was a relief to see the little bull calf from the helicopter. It was lovely to see the two of them safe and together in this big wide open space,’ Ms de Bod said.
Farmer Pieter Els showed Ms de Bod and filmmaker Susan Scott the scene of the massacre at his property where nine rhinos – including four pregnant mothers – were killed a few days after the attack.
‘It was clear he was devastated walking from one rhino carcass to the next. He was receiving phone calls about the investigation and I could see that he did not want to stay long at each rhino carcass,’ Ms de Bod said.
‘We walked to another one of his dead rhinos and I could see a foetus lying just outside her body… a perfectly formed little rhino. He got quite emotional telling me that he had lost not only nine rhinos but actually 13 because four of them were pregnant.’
Both of the bulls who survived the attack are now ‘together at the orphanage and stable, but not out of the woods just yet,’ Ms de Bod explained.
They are now the ‘best of friends’ after bonding during the traumatic experience. Ordinarily, baby rhinos would stay close to their mothers until they are around three years old.
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