The Rhino Orphanage
The Rhino Orphanage is a registered non-profit company based on the Limpopo Province, founded by Arrie van Deventer in 2012. The orphanage is the first specialist, dedicated, non-commercial centre that cares for orphaned or injured baby rhinos with the only aim of releasing them back into the wild. It was created as the result of a lack of a specialized place for rearing baby rhinos left orphaned as a consequence of the current poaching crisis which feeds the illegal trade in horns.
Baby rhinos are hand-reared by the rehabilitation staff, a milk substitute is fed as well as supplementary food. Exercise is encouraged by daily walks in which the rhinos also have the opportunity to graze and browse in the bush. The rhinos are split in groups according to ages and how depending they are on their human moms. Natural behaviour such as playing and wallowing are highly encouraged and are developed normally if rhinos are socialized with other rhinos. Health checks, diets and medical problems are treated by specialized veterinary staff. Human contact is restricted to prevent the imprinting of rhinos to humans and in the future turn them into problem animals when in adulthood.
The orphanage counts with different enclosures depending on the level of human interaction needed, from ICU and overnight rooms with infrared lights and air conditioning, to enclosures of different sizes where there is natural vegetation, mud wallows and other wild animals, everything planned as to give these babies the better chance of survival and ultimately release them back to their natural habitats. The orphanage also has specialized transport trailers ready to respond for emergencies and will soon be registered with the South African Veterinary Council as a veterinary facility to ensure we provide the best care for orphan calves.
Currently, the Rhino Orphanage looks after 10 rhinos, 11 whites and 1 black. Ages vary from 6 to 24 months old, from which 4 are still very dependent on milk. The milk is formulated as to mimic the rhino’s milk which is high in carbohydrates, low in solids and proteins, and very low in fat. Daily intakes of milk go from 12 to 25 litres per day per rhino.
The Rhino Orphanage has been established as a not‐for‐profit charity (Section 21 company in South Africa) with all donations going directly to fund the centre and the care and rehabilitation of the rhinos.
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