Donnie the rhino orphan on road to recovery

2015-07-27 21:06
Donnie the little rhino sidles up to the car. (Debbie English, Facebook)

Donnie the little rhino sidles up to the car. (Debbie English, Facebook)

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Cape Town - A baby rhino which lost his mother to poaching in the Kruger National Park at the weekend ended up flanking a tourist's car with almost the same colouring as himself.

Orphaned Donnie gravitated towards the car parked on a dust road near Phabeni Gate on Friday morning, perhaps hoping someone would look after him.

The story has a somewhat happy ending though, because he is now being looked after by Care for Wild Africa, an organisation that rehabilitates wild animals on a reserve in Mpumalanga.

“He’s doing very well. He drank all his milk and he’s walking around,” the organisation’s Marnelle van der Merwe said on Monday.

The calf is believed to be between a month and two months old. The babies are slowly weaned off milk and get released back into the wild once they are strong enough.

He was named after the Kruger Park’s regional ranger, Don English, who, along with a veterinarian, came to his aid.

English's daughter, Debbie English, posted heartbreaking photos of the orphan on Facebook, along with an explanation on what had happened.

Donnie flown to new home

She explained that her father and the vet managed to tranquillise Donnie and fly him to his new home.

The pilot had to make an emergency landing along the way because the orphan’s heart stopped beating.

“After three minutes of resuscitation and trying everything to save him… everyone involved was amazed (some with tear-filled eyes) when he gasped for air and his little heart started up again!!” she posted.

Van der Merwe told News24 that they had received another rhino orphan from the park, estimated to be about six months old, on Sunday.

“His mother has also been poached. He drank a bit of milk on Sunday. Now we are struggling to get him to drink, so he is still being kept on a drip,” she said.

The latest orphan did not have a name because they were still looking for a sponsor who would help come up with one as well as provide other assistance.

Kruger National Park spokesperson William Mabasa said tourists alerted the park to Donnie’s situation.

“We got the mother’s carcass yesterday [Sunday],” he said, confirming she was a victim of poaching.

He confirmed that a second rhino calf was captured at Lower Sabie around midday on Sunday and taken to the sanctuary.

Read more on:    animals  |  rhino poaching

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