The New Face of WWF South Africa
Past volunteer Erin Prigmore, now working at Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre, and 20 month old black rhino calf Dela recently had a photo shoot to become the face of WWF South Africa in a bid to raise funds for rhino conservation!
Even though Dela is used to being the centre of attention at the centre, this was even more exciting for her and Moholoholo had a few close calls when the 500kg rhino decided to stomp around the set! Dela has been with Moholoholo for around 19 months, growing to 500kg from the small 1 month old 40kg when she was found stuck in a mud wallow in Kruger National Park.
Erin Prigmore, Dela’s co-star now works at Moholoholo, and was one of Dela’s original “mommies”, alongside previous ACE volunteer Natalie Rogers, hand rearing the young, vulnerable calf. They slept with Dela for 2 months in quarantine, hand raising her with the help of fellow volunteers.
“I first volunteered with African Conservation Experience when I had just turned 18. Working at Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre was the most amazing 4 weeks of my life, and when I left I knew I had to return as soon as possible.
After a few more volunteer stints I was offered a job which I jumped at. Not long after I had started, the centre received a phone call which would change my life forever. We were requested to go and collect a one month old black rhino.
She required 24/7 care needing feeding every 2 hours. A few months later she (now called Landela) had settled down enough for her to be passed on and it was the volunteers’ turn to become ‘mums’. However, the bond between us had become set in stone and we couldn’t seem to stay away from each other for too long. She comes running over if she so much as hears my voice, or smells me from afar.
Nearly 2 years on we are still crazy about each other. She now sleeps my garden at night so that we can keep a close eye on her. The number of poached rhinos is starting to reach a horrendous number and we are all very concerned about her future. Dela’s only real worry is ‘how can I break into the house?’ Her persistent wining outside to come in is heart breaking and some nights I have cracked and let her come in to sleep beside my bed just like old times. Unlike when she first arrived and weighed only 40kg she now weighs around 500kg! Just a few weeks ago she tried to climb onto the bed with me crushing the bed under her. Needless to say she is definitely no longer allowed in the house.
Words cannot begin to describe how strongly I feel about Dela. Having this amazing experience at such a young age, I really don’t think anything will top this later on in my life. She is the most stubborn, moody baby ever but I wouldn’t change her for the world.”
Dela’s future is uncertain with poaching at extreme highs in South Africa, but Erin and Moholoholo are keeping her as safe as possible, while she continues her days at the centre enjoying her freshly cut browse and welcoming new volunteers!
Join Dela and the team at Moholoholo to support the conservation of this inspiring species and the many other animals which pass through Moholoholo’s caring hands on their journeys back to a wild environment.