Warwick is a proud supporter of the Spirit Wildlife Fund. The Fund supports nature and animal conservation in South Africa and has made a significant commitment to Care For Wild, which provides a home for orphaned rhino. Little brave Arthur was featured on the front page of the Cape Times recently, with Spirit Foundation Trustee, Jooles Kilbride, personally spending many hours nursing him after his horrendous injuries. This is their story.

The old saying that it takes a village to raise a child is one that we can relate to, except that in this case, the child is a rhino calf, orphaned by poaching.  This is a story that will take you from the depths of despair to a place of hope.  Some of it is not an easy read but if you read it to the end your faith in humanity will be restored. In this story you will learn more about an organisation that is dedicated to saving orphaned rhinos; that organisation is called Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary.

In the early hours of Sunday, the 20th May, the SANParks Section Ranger received a radio call from field rangers alerting him that a gunshot had been heard in the Skukuza section of the Kruger National Park. Helicopter support was deployed and soon after a deceased white rhino cow with a live calf was located.  Both horns had been removed from the cow and the calf had serious injuries to his back and right foot. Veterinarian Peter Buss stabilised the calf before it was transported by helicopter to Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary.

At approximately 12:50 Care for Wild received notice that an injured calf was being airlifted to them and that they should be ready within ten minutes. They were.

The small yet dedicated team at Care for Wild are on standby 24/7 and have strict protocols and procedures in place so that they are always ready to receive a rhino calf. It is imperative that the team can focus on the animal without adding to the enormous stress and fear it is already under.

This particular calf weighed in at just 80kgs. He was not dehydrated as he had drunk from his mother that same morning before she was killed. As he was still sedated, his wounds which were caused by a machete, were scrubbed cleaned and bandaged.

He had a cut to his right front toenail which split the nail down to the nailbed, and a 4-inch gash on his back that cut through cartilage very close to his spine. It was instinctive for him to try and stay close to his mother to protect her, and the poachers with no sympathy or hesitation whatsoever lashed out at him so that they could finish their heinous crime of taking his mother’s horn as quickly as possible.

Petronel Nieuwoudt, the Founder of Care for Wild, put in an urgent call to Dr. Nolene du Plessis, (Plastic Surgeon) and explained the situation. Dr. du Plessis came out to the sanctuary immediately to stitch the deep wound in his back closed.  Staff are keeping a close eye on the wounds and baby is receiving antibiotics and vitamin injections to keep him as healthy as possible.

Just hours after his arrival and while still on the drip, he took his first bottle of milk! The jubilation felt by the staff was indescribable as this is a huge step in the extensive rehabilitation process. Since that first feed he has been fed 1 litre of milk every 2 hours.  He is still being given pain killers and his temperature is taken on regular basis. The care that he is under means that the devoted staff are on duty for more hours per day than they sleep because this little one is not the only orphan they have to care for.

In the days since his rescue his blindfold has been removed and he has once again felt the warm African sunshine on his skin. He has been given the regal and brave name of Arthur, a name that suits his determination and spirit to survive.  He still calls for his mother, it is a heart wrenching sound and one that he should never have to make.  Her death will affect him emotionally long after his physical wounds have healed.  A rhino calf stays with his mother for up to three years and in that time, she teaches him everything he needs to know, from what to eat and how to keep himself safe. She will teach him how to behave when in the company of other rhino and he will learn everything necessary from her so that he has a good chance of growing into a strong adult.  Who is going to teach him now?

The poaching epidemic of rhino and other species is not a problem just for Africa. It is up to all of us as there are so many countries involved in one way or another.  It is not false information to say that we could be looking at the extinction of many species within the next 50 years.  The rhino could possibly be gone from the wild within 20 if we do not take urgent action together.

Care for Wild is the largest rhino sanctuary and orphanage in the world and it is the designated treatment and rehabilitation centre for orphaned rhino coming from the Kruger National Park, the source of the world’s largest remaining rhino population.

Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary has one mission; to save the rhino species from extinction. The Kruger National Park supports this.

Arthur’s story is just one of many and we invite you to visit  www.careforwild.co.za to find out more. You will also find us on Instagram and Facebook.

We want you to make our village global, if you can, please make a donation to help us to save more rhino orphans.   Taxation benefits in South Africa and the United States are available.

Let’s do this together.

If you would like to sponsor Arthur or if you require more information, please contact jooles@spiritwildlifefund.org  or media@careforwild.co.za or telephone the office on +27 013 590 4448.

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