Student feeding a baby rhino

Scientific study of rehabilitation prospects for orphaned rhino at Care for Wild Rhino sanctuary

Nobody wants wild animals to end up in wildlife rehabilitation centres, sanctuaries, or zoos. In an ideal world, they should live out their lives in the wild. However, as wildlife populations suffer from habitat loss, poaching, poisoning, and other manmade infractions, wildlife rehabilitation centres can often be the only option to save individual animals.

Most wildlife centres do a great job of providing care for these animals. The best wildlife sanctuaries, however, go beyond just providing daily care and turn the necessity of having wildlife in temporary or permanent captivity into a virtue: they utilise access to a stable population to support important research.

Care for Wild Africa Rhino Sanctuary currently works with wildlife researcher Dr María Fàbregas, who is conducting a study of the rhino orphans for the University of Pretoria, in collaboration with South African National Parks, and Care for Wild Africa Rhino Sanctuary.

Key to Maria’s research is the collection of physiological and behavioural data for the young rhino to assess the feasibility of re-wilding orphaned rhinos and to help establish best practices for rhino orphan rehabilitation.

The African Conservation Experience team member Ellen has been talking to Maria about her work, the rhino poaching crisis – and how people all over the world can help: you can listen here.

The study is in the very early stages, and it is anticipated that the research phase will continue for at least two years. ACE travellers who volunteer at Care for Wild Africa Rhino Sanctuary during this time may assist Maria with some of her data collection. If you are interested in more extensive involvement with the study, please indicate this in your application form, and we will facilitate contact with Maria to discuss the possibilities.