Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

Around the clock security‚ reconstructive surgeons and a secret location — a private reserve in the Western Cape has started operating the province’s first rhino orphanage. However, Aquila Private Game Reserve will not disclose where the calves will be cared for.

"The orphanage will not be open to the public. This is in the best interests of the rhinos’ rehabilitation and security. It will be funded through the non-governmental organisation, Saving Private Rhino, and Aquila‚’’ a statement read.

Aquila staff members have already been approached to help four orphans which are being "stabilised prior to transportation’’.

The orphanage will be stocked with tons of lucerne and thousands of litres of equine milk formula. The location will also be used by Saving Private Rhino to rehabilitate and release rhino who have suffered facial and respiratory injuries. "This will require the services of our vets who will provide lifesaving surgery to allow these traumatised animals to breathe and eat normally.’’

More than a year ago, Aquila had to raise and rehabilitate an orphan calf. "It has been a thrill to watch this little rhino grow into the magnificent animal we now know as Osita‚’’ said Aquila owner Searl Derman.

Staff gained experience when setting up infrastructure for Osita and it seemed "only natural’’ to open doors for other animals.

The Department of Environmental Affairs is set to disclose rhino-poaching statistics next week, said spokesperson Albi Modise. On Friday, acting manager of the Madikwe Game Reserve in North West‚ Moremi Keabetswe‚ said poachers are now targeting calves too.

In the past, the young rhino were not harmed‚ Keabetswe said, but now the calves’ body parts are also taken‚ leading the reserve to increase security.

TMG Digital

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