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Phinda Wildlife Research Project: 28 November - 12 December 2023*
A cloud's silver lining
At 1 am on 14th June, a 3-month-old white rhino calf, Lunar, arrived at Khulula Wild Care after a traumatic few days. Unfortunately, her mother was attacked and killed by an elephant a few days earlier at Shambala Game Reserve, South Africa. The first few months of a rhino's life are critical in their survival, including their mother’s milk for their immunity.
Lunar is currently very wild in her instincts and cannot be handled. This included not initially drinking any milk. Through dedicated time and commitment, she has begun to drink from a bottle which is crucial to retain the nutrients and vitamins to see her through these early days. Given the conservation status of both black and white rhinos, each animal is of great importance.
Hand-rearing rhino calves requires consistent management and dedication to cater to the physical and psychological needs of the calf. Calves imprint onto a foster mother and require stability and constancy with much-needed companionship. Lunar is lucky to have found Khulula and we all are holding thumbs for her.
As Luna has a bright future ahead of her at Khulula, it is with great sadness that we must report that Bobby the white rhino calf, who has been hand-reared at Khulula for several months, has died. Bobby had a great impact on all those who worked with him at Khulula and we know made a strong connection with many of our volunteers.
He spent his last few days with our Nsikazi veterinary volunteers under the excellent care of wildlife veterinarian Dr Raath. The autopsy showed that his intestinal tract damage caused in his very early life was irreversible. Being a hindgut fermenter the ulceration Bobby had developed made it very hard for him to draw nutrition from hard feed or when grazing. It is a testament to the staff and volunteers at Khulula that Bobby was nursed to be able to enjoy a short life with the most wonderful care. It is a very sad loss for everyone that was involved with Bobby.