When left to live peacefully in the wild, rhinos are part of tight-knit families and play a very important role in our ecosystem. Because of their large stature, rhinos are able to exert control over their environments, just like lions or elephants, controlling the type of plants present in a region which therefore impacts the types of smaller animals that thrive there.

Sadly, despite the role they play in creating their ecosystem, rhinos are ruthlessly hunted by humans for their horns. It is believed that rhino horns contain medicinal properties when in reality they are composed of keratin (the same stuff in our fingernails). Unfortunately, due to this myth, it is estimated that three rhinos are killed every day for their horns.

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When rhinos are poached to supply the horn demand of the illegal wildlife trade, the rhinos that are killed are not the only ones affected. Often, babies are left behind but rhinos are just like human children and they rely on their mother’s care for survival. Just recently, The Rhino Orphanage (TRO) rescued a five-month-old white rhino bull after his mother was poached to death.

According to TRO, this rhino’s mother was poached along with two other rhinos, an act that took the lives of nearly all of this baby rhino’s family group.

Rhino Baby 5

To transport this traumatized orphan, TRO blindfolded him and placed earbuds in his ears to minimize external stimuli and sound and reduce the amount of stress this little one had to endure as much as possible. 

Rhino Baby 2
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Upon his arrival, the ladies at the orphanage named him Nenkani. This translates to “stubborn” in Zulu, which they thought accurately described this voracious, independent, and sassy baby rhino. 

Rhino Baby 1

Nenkani was understandably tired, both emotionally and physically, but he’s been receiving around the clock care and nourishment from the orphanage staff. 

Rhino Baby 4

Nothing can bring Nenkani’s mother backor the lifetime of  happiness they could have shared together, but at least Nenkani is safe and in capable hands, now. 

Rhino Baby 3
 

 

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Nenkani’s incredibly sad story is a reminder that we still have a lot of work left to do to truly save this species. Park rangers and wildlife protection workers are on the frontlines of the fight against illegal wildlife poaching, but we could all play a part in what happens to the magnificent white rhino. To begin, you can share this article to raise awareness for their plight. To learn more about what else you can do to help rhinos, click here.

All image source: The Rhino Orphanage/Facebook