Rescue efforts for rhino orphans

NEW CHANCE: Rhino Orphanage manager Yolande van der Merwe and one of the calves which feature in ’The Wild Ones’, which begins this Sunday on M-Net at 3pm Picture: BARBARA HOLLANDS
NEW CHANCE: Rhino Orphanage manager Yolande van der Merwe and one of the calves which feature in ’The Wild Ones’, which begins this Sunday on M-Net at 3pm Picture: BARBARA HOLLANDS
The plight of orphaned baby rhinos who lose their mothers to rhino horn poachers is highlighted in a moving new South African-made documentary The Wild Ones which premiers on M-Net at 3pm on Sunday.

The 13-part series, which was produced by zoologists Jaco Loubser and Josef Moller of Homebrew Films, also has episodes dealing with the people who work at the magnificent Cape Town Aquarium and other wildlife initiatives in Africa.

Of special interest to Survivor South Africa fans, which started on M-Net last night is the first episode this Sunday which will focus on all the exotic, weird and dangerous inhabitants of El Nido in the Philippines where the current series is based. Viewers will get a close-up look at all the creepy crawlies the 18 South African castaways had to be on the watch out for during the filming of the sixth season earlier this year.

Last week the media enjoyed a sneak preview of an episode about the country’s first rhino orphanage which was founded in Limpopo by former history teacher and conservation enthusiast Arrie van Deventer in 2012.

“There is an average of four to five rhinos dying every day due to poachers. It’s a war.

“The calves take days to accept their mother is gone because their bond is very strong. We have saved dozens of these babies who arrive at the orphanage in a terrible state. Some have also been injured.”

The heart-wrenching episode shows the dedication of the staff at the orphanage, who endure bashes and bruises from the traumatised orphaned calves before they are accepted as bottle-feeding mother substitutes.

In a poignant scene, viewers meet Thuli, whose shoulder was ripped open by a bullet that had passed though her mother.

The documentary records how she loses sight in both eyes, meaning she will never be released from the centre.

The Dispatch team was privileged to visit the Rhino Orphanage, which is not open to the public, and saw young rhinos of different ages being cared for in the centre.

“We are in a crisis the size of the ocean,” said Van Deventer, referring to the more than 1000 rhinos slaughtered every year in South Africa for their horn.

lThe Wild Ones premiers on M-Net on Sunday at 3pm. — barbarah@dispatch.co.za

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