Posts Tagged With: orphans

Building a Canine APU

Earlier we requested your help in putting Chloe through her anti-poaching class. Her training is complete! She now helps protect the Kapama area near the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Center (HESC) and Kruger National Park.

The HESC current recruits are Bullet and Zee. The duo is the core of the Centre’s program; with Zee successfully done with initial training and Bullet going through  puppy training.


Bullet and Zee



The next step will be for them to undergo advanced training. The cost of the course is R20 000 per dog and another R20 000 for the trainer to attend and have her with the dogs at all times. That’s approximately $4,162 usd total.

We are committed to assisting with the successful care and training of the dogs; both for the protection of rhinos and the protection of the rangers. If you are able, please donate via PayPal.


Philippa, Lions Den and Dingle Dell; 3 of the rhinos @ the Centre.





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The Bonding of Gertje and Matimba

Sometimes life throws two souls together at the right place and time, forming a lasting friendship, an unexplainable bond. That’s the story of Gertje and Matimba, the two orphan rhinos at Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre.

These boys have both endured the trauma of losing their mothers to poachers in the beginning of their young lives. Gertje (also known as Little G) made headlines, as he pulled heartstrings. Found crying inconsolably next to his dead mother, he was brought to HESC over a year ago, bonding with his caretakers, as he was too heartbroken and afraid to even sleep alone.

Gertje was paired up with a sheep to provide companionship. With his own webcam, viewers could tune in to watch the two of them in his boma, as he slept, or more often; restlessly paced about.

gertje little

Little G, Gertje, being consoled by his caretaker soon after his arrival. photo: HESC

About 9 months ago little Matimba was rescued; he and his dead mother were found covered in mud, indicating at his young age of less than a month old, he had likely just enjoyed his first mudbath minutes before the poaching.

matimba little

Matimba, at just weeks old, when he first arrived in the centre. photo: HESC

In December of 2014, the two were introduced. Initially Gertje was less than enthusiastic; unsure what to make of this miniature replica of himself. It took him a couple of hours to become assured that the little bundle of energy wasn’t a threat, and as caretaker, Anri said only a couple of days “to completely accept each other”.

According to Anri, as the boys grow older, their natural instincts will kick in and they will grow less affectionate towards each other. Adult bulls are generally solitary and associate only with females in oestrus.

Regardless of what the future holds, their bond at the moment is deep and vital to their growth. In a perfect world, rhinos remain with their moms for 2-3 years before venturing out on their own. Their relationship is unusual and may not replace the nurture of “mom”, but it brings a bit of solace in an otherwise horrible circumstance.

gert and matimba on flattened termite mound

Gertje and Matimba enjoying their newly flattened termite mound. photo: HESC

*Fight for Rhinos is looking forward to our first visit to the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre in September. If you have any questions for the rhino caretakers on Gertje or Matimba, please email us at We’ll gladly find out.


Categories: Rhino Ramblings, Rhino Spotlight | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Saving Rhinos with Art

  • Keeping rangers equipped and active in the bush
  • Providing milk and veterinary assistance for orphans
  • Tracking and monitoring rhinos
  • Supporting and educating local communities on the importance of wildlife preservation
  • Updating and utilizing technology in the field

These are some of the key components your donations allow us to support!

black mambas training

Black Mambas, all female APU in training.

By being a part of the art auction on June 1st, you will make a significant impact on these initiatives with the following groups: Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage
                                                         Ol Pejeta Conservancy
                                                         Game Reserves United
                                                         Vision Africa
                                                         RPU Program in Indonesia


Veterinary check at Thula Thula

Don’t see anything you want to bid on? Can’t afford the piece you want? There will be a DONATE option. Donations are always welcome in ANY amount!

Please help us sign (through FB, Tumblr and Twitter) and share our Thunderclap to promote the auction. The more people, the greater the success, the better for rhinos!

Thunderclap: FFR ART AUCTION

harapan art june


Categories: Making a Difference, Poetry & Art, Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thula Thula: protecting the future

The reality is that aggressive poaching is pushing our iconic rhino’s closer and closer to the brink of extinction. It is becoming increasingly evident that every rhino we can save is critical in this war on poaching and the fight to rescue a species.

thul orphan

One of the many tragic fallouts of the poaching crisis is the orphaned young rhinos that are left behind once the mothers have been killed. A rhino calf has no horn and depends entirely on its mother for food and protection from predators. Rhino calves suckle up to the age of 18-months and losing it’s mother in infancy often has a deadly outcome.

There is a country-wide shortage of facilities with the ability to take in these brave little souls, and as a result we are losing young rhino that could have saved. In response to this need a unique partnership has been formed between The Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization (LAEO), Thula Thula Private Game Reserve and the local communities represented by their respective chiefs.Thula Thula

A world-class care facility has been constructed to give these magnificent animals the fighting chance they deserve at survival. This unique care facility will not only address the physical needs of the rhino but also nurture them mentally and emotionally to ensure that they are fully rehabilitated back into the wild.

It has been designed with guidance from world-renowned rhino expert Karen Trendler, the LAEO and the Thula Thula wild team.

Fight for Rhinos and Helping Rhinos proudly support Thula Thula in their efforts in saving and rehabilitating the orphans. Their survival is critical to the future of black and white rhino populations.


Categories: Making a Difference, Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rhino Blessings

Thanksgiving is a great reminder for us to count our blessings.

I am thankful for the opportunity to do what I can to help rhinos, and extraordinarily grateful to rangers, vet staff, advocates and rhino lovers everywhere who share the same passion.

Let us not fret over the work yet to be done, but be grateful for what we have done and the opportunity to be able to do more.

Endelea Kupigana my friends!

Gertje and Lammie 3

Gertje (Little G) and his buddy Lammie (via Hoedspruit Endangered Species Center)

Shaki Nyani nap

Little Shaka and Nyani napping (via the Rhino Orphanage)

Thandi via Kariega Game Reserve

Thandi via Kariega Game Reserve

breaking news

Shanu and babe

Here is the latest miracle! This morning at 3:35am, Imire Rhino and Wildlife Conservation proudly announced Shanu giving birth to a healthy baby girl! This is the first birth here since their 2007 poaching tragedy.











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Roccy the Rhino

This is the story of a couple, Yvonne and Rocco Gioia, and their love for an orphaned baby rhino.

Roccy with parents

Yvonne and Rocco with Roccy

“We came upon a dead rhino cow on our property and we knew she had a little calf. We started searching and wouldn’t give up. The search lasted almost three days. We called in the help of the air force and the police, and eventually, a private helicopter pilot.”

Finally, they found little Roccy hiding under a tree, in great distress after losing his mother.

“We called in the vet to dart him, and that day I said to Rocco, I’m not giving up on this animal. I will do anything in my power to get him to survive.”

Roccy had to undergo cataract surgery – the condition most probably developed from the shock and dehydration sustained during the poaching incident. The procedure was successful, and Yvonne and Rocco took it upon themselves to raise him and take care of him, and shortly thereafter he was joined by another orphan rhino named Clova.

Being in Roccy and Clova’s presence makes it even harder to understand how any person could harm such docile animals. Rocco believes it comes down to education.

Roccy and Clova

Roccy and Clova

“Everyone is up in arms about the rhino situation, but you have to remember that 90 percent of people in our country are not aware of it, let alone know what rhino look like. This includes the part of our population from which the poachers originate.”

He thinks that people have lost touch with nature, and that they need to learn about the damage the human race does to animals in order to turn the situation around.

“The awareness obviously has to spread through the countries that use rhino horn. But our point is – clean your own house first, and that starts with the education of South Africa’s children. It is based on the simple mathematical equation that the youth will be adults when rhino are on the brink of extinction.”

Roccy the sirviro and ms s africa

Ambassador to the Elandela Rhino Survivor Trust, Miss South Africa Marilyn Ramos, shares Roccy’s story with school children.

It is this conviction that led him and his wife to share Roccy’s story via a colour-in storybook.  It was a joint idea, and Pick n Pay helped distribute 40 000 copies of Roccy the survivor to schools representing all the social strata in South Africa.

Needless to say, Rocco and Yvonne would be heartbroken if anything were to happen to these two orphans. Yvonne says they live in constant fear.

“All our plans are controlled by fear, but you can’t allow yourself to take out your day-to-day woes on the animals. The only thing you can do is to carry on and fight for the cause.”

Rocco and Yvonne’s awareness campaign is a glimmer of hope in the dire-looking future. The survival of all endangered animals relies on selfless souls like these, and thanks to their efforts, we may just be looking at a happy ending like the one in Roccy the survivor:

For the first time since Roccy ran and ran to get away from the poachers, and for the first time since his mom was killed, he was happy. He had lots of friends in his life now, and he was going to have many, many adventures.”

*Taken from “The Survivor” in Lowveld

Categories: Rhino Ramblings, Rhino Spotlight | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Next Generation of Rhino

Gertje the baby rhino was found crying inconsolably next to his dead mother when rescuers found him. The photos of him bonding with his caretaker have made it around the internet, inspiring both sympathy and outrage.

Little G, as he became known, even had his own webcam to bring people in to his boma as he slept (or restlessly paced and fidgeted) through the night. We’ve watched him grow and even befriend a lamb.

gertje with caretaker

Little G being consoled by his caretaker.

He is one of many baby rhinos being raised without their moms, as poaching continues to take its toll. In fact, it seems possible more rhinos are raised by humans than rhinos nowadays. The escalation of babies has led to a demand of orphanages. Currently there are a handful of them in South Africa, designated with the difficult task of rehabilitating them.

stress lines

Evidence of trauma visible with the stress lines on the rhino’s toes.

With staggering costs of milk, medical equipment, supplies and security, it is a huge undertaking. But perhaps the greatest cost is emotional, as it takes a great amount of time and compassion to comfort and care for these wounded souls.

As adults are lost, the future of our young rhinos is in the balance; how will they fare after release? The issues at hand are 1)the stress they have undergone, and will continue to carry with them; 2)the way in which they are reared by humans, as too much human contact will only serve the poachers lurking in the bush and 3)the location and safety of their release.

We have already left an irreparable amount of damage on their species (all five of them). Therefore it’s paramount we do everything perfectly with the orphans as they may be our last chance.



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Heartbreak as Another Baby Rhino is Found by Tourists

Remember the baby rhino found by tourists in Kruger a few weeks back?

It’s deja-vu , another orphaned baby was found wandering on the road in Kruger this last week.

He was an eight-week-old white rhino stumbled upon by passersby.

“Badly dehydrated, covered in wounds and clearly in desperate search of shade, the calf approached my car. She called out into emptiness, looked on for a moment and then rested her chin on my door. Slumping onto her hindquarters and then onto her belly she caught a few moments of peaceful rest in our shadow.”-Liam Burrough

baby rhino Liam 2

via Liam Burrough

Another driver who stumbled upon the scene  claimed the little one was dehydrated, cut up and crying for her mom. According to Adam Baugh the rhino came up and rubbed up against the car, before laying next to it to seek shade.

They tried to comfort the orphan, giving her water and talking to her until Kruger staff arrived to assist.

Baby rhino in lebambo mountains se corner of kruger near moz

via: Adam Baugh

Is this the kind of tourism South Africa is going to be known for? Crying baby rhinos desperately searching for their mom, wandering aimlessly for hours, maybe days in the bush, hopefully stumbling upon the right people for help?

So heartbreaking to think that these innocent souls sought out help from the very species responsible for their mothers’ destruction.

As Liam said, “It is our responsibility as humans to protect these animals. Change begins with you, so get off of your ass and do something! Write angry letters, donate as much money as you can to fund guns, dogs, equipment and salaries for the hands we so badly need to stop these gentle giants from disappearing.”

US residents: Write an email to the White House and share your concern. Please don’t use profanity or racial slurs, but USE your anger and heartache to demand change! It doesn’t have to be lengthy or wordy. We need to take a stand, with each email, it strengthens our voice. The South African government needs pressure from other countries to make this a priority and get serious.

South Africa:





If you have problems with any of these email addresses, or know of better links, please let us know.






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Rhino Orphans







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Saying Goodbye Is Never Easy

In a planet filled with millions of people and animals, life and death are facts, taken for granted. There is usually not much fanfare to either one. But for a celebrated, highly endangered and fought for species like the rhino, every birth is celebrated, every death is mourned.

Regretfully, The Rhino Orphanage has just lost an orphan.

baby rhino died


Vets at the Onderstepoort Veterinary Hospital made the difficult decision to put the young black rhino down after extensive tests showed there was nothing else that could be done for him. He’s had a long journey of medical treatment, and has deteriorated since last year.

Arrie van Deventer who runs the orphanage said It was the darkest day. So many people have cared so much for the rhino and I am grateful for the efforts of everybody to try and nurse the rhino back to good health – especially the vets at Onderstepoort. But in the end there was nothing more we could do for him. It is a tragic loss but we will refocus our efforts to save as many rhino as we can and care for the ones in our care and the ones that will surely follow.”

It takes mere minutes to kill a rhino, yet years to rehabilitate one. In a world of greed and evil, thankfully there are those who have endless strength, dedication and love to do just that. Appreciation goes out to the Rhino Orphanage, and to all those who live, fight and work for these magnificent creatures every day.


Categories: Rhino Ramblings, Rhino Spotlight | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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