Back in May staffers from the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre in South Africa found
a baby rhinoceros crying next to its mother that had been killed by
poachers just for her horn. They wanted to give the baby another chance
at life and so they took it back to their facility and named him Gerjie,
or more commonly Little G. He didn't sleep at all that first night even
though they brought Skaap the sheep in to help comfort him.
It is hard for a child to lose its mother. It is doubly hard when the mother is killed in front of the child. It has taken a lot of time for Little G to come back from the trauma and having Skaap there to be a surrogate and help the staff has gone a long way to help heal the rhino. He still hasn't figured out that he is a little big to fit in human lap though.
Initially Little G required feeding every three hours and staff members took turns sleeping outside of his room to be able to accommodate him. Skaap would also spend time in the room with him to keep him feeling truly loved and cared for. He now spends his days taking long walks -- often with Skaap -- indulging in mud baths, and having a good graze.
Since he is only nine months old he has not been weaned yet. Baby rhinos typically continue nursing until they are 15 to 18 months old. One day Little G will be returned to live out his life in the wild to live the life than nature intended for him.
South Africa is home to 83% of all of the rhinos in Africa and 73% of rhinos in the world. Poaching is a tremendous problem in the country. A single rhinoceros can fetch $300,000. The rhino horn is used in traditional Chinese medicine, and for dagger hilts in Yemen and Oman.
Hopefully Little G will live a long and healthy life in the wild and father new and safer, but just as cute, generations of rhinos.