Baby Rhino Gunned Down By Poachers In Zimbabwe Is Nursed Back To Health
A young black rhino who was shot down by poachers after they slaughtered her mother has now been given a full bill of health.
The 16-month-old calf was found limping by members of the Lowveld Rhino Trust (LRT), who had been routine patrol in the bush of the Bubye Valley Conservancy in Zimbabwe, having been shot with a heavy calibre rifle.
With a lot of love and care, the little rhino - who has been named Pumpkin - has now been nursed back to health.
"This little girl had enough personality and the fight for three rhinos," says Natasha Anderson of the International Rhino Foundation (IRF).
"Although she was obviously scared without her mother and in considerable pain, the LRT team increasingly became more confident that she would recover from her bullet wounds because she was displaying what a fighter she was."
When Pumpkin was found int he state she was in, charity workers rushed to get her to there vets where professionals worked on her "quite severe" injuries.
The team used antibiotics to clear out the wounds and prevent infection before she was taken to specially constructed rhino bomas to recover, away from lions and hyenas.
Staff spent hours with the calf making relaxing 'rhino' noises and playing with her. Pumpkin was named after the soothing sound the name makes.
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"She became known as 'Princess Pumpkin' due to her very fussy eating habits and the hilarious mini tantrums she would throw if anything was off schedule," said Natasha.
During her time at the facility, staff discovered she had been receiving nighttime visits from another wild orphaned rhino named Rocky. In the mornings, they would see his tracks encircling her enclosure.
After six weeks of care, Pumpkin's leg was healed and she was released back into the wild. A few days later, staff found her spoor (scent) with Rocky's.
"It's likely they will join up and live together, both finding the company they craved at last since tragically losing their mothers to poaching," Natasha`explained.
IRF recently reported that the black rhino population had a small increase to 5,630 from 5,500 in Africa in 2019.
Still, they remain critically endangered.
Nina Fascione, IRF's executive director, said: "Rhinos in Africa are dependent on protection and monitoring personnel for their continued safety.
"LRT's monitoring program is crucial. If you don't know exactly how many rhinos are out there, it's impossible to determine the level of poaching or its impact on protection efforts."
Featured Image Credit: Unsplash