Today we bring you the incredible rescue story of Donnie, a scared and confused baby rhino who was orphaned at the hands of poachers in Kruger National Park.

After his mother’s death, Donnie, heartbreakingly, tried to adopt cars passing through the park as his new mother. This phenomenon, known as imprinting, is a form of associative learning that occurs whenever a young animal starts to regard an individual or object as its parent. This is not uncommon in safari parks, where baby animals can often be seen following vehicles after their parents have died.


Debbie English, a fourth-year veterinary science student who witnessed Donnie’s heartbreaking search for a new mother, posted some photos of him on Facebook.

Meanwhile, her father Don, a Regional Ranger who grew up in Kruger Park, tried to comfort the disorientated rhino.

The distressing sight of the young animal sniffing around the grey vehicle – perhaps mistaking the color for that of his mother – prompted Don to seek the assistance of a veterinarian.

Donnie had to be tranquillized and airlifted to a new place of safety – Care for Wild Africa, an organization which rehabilitates wild animals on a reserve in Mpumalanga, South Africa.

Three hours into the journey, there was a brief moment of panic when Donnie flat-lined and appeared to have stopped breathing.

According to Corne Schalkwyk, however, “this little guy is not only special but had all his angels on board.” After three minutes of resuscitation efforts, Donnie opened his eyes once more and began to breathe again.


Following his successful transfer to the sanctuary, Care for Wild Africa spokesperson Marnelle van deer Merwe said, “He’s doing very well. He drank all his milk and he’s walking around.”

Donnie’s story highlights not only the kindness of everyone who came to his aid, but also the incredible work that park rangers have to do every single day in stopping illegal wildlife poaching and caring for its orphaned and injured victims. To find out how more about their fight, and how you can make a difference, check out the amazing articles below:


Lead Image: Travelcorne/Blogspot

In-text images: The South African and Travelcorne/Blogspot