A baby rhino who watched poachers murder his mother has been unable to sleep alone, capturing the hearts of staff at a South African animal sanctuary.
The rhino, named Gertjie, was found on May 7 after the brutal murder of his mother. The baby rhino was just three months old at the time, and staff at the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre said the animal was “crying inconsolably’ and refusing to leave his dead mother’s side.
“It was a devastating sight, as the tiny animal would not leave her side, and was crying inconsolably for her,” the center noted.
Staff members ended up having to sedate the baby rhino so they could transport him back to the animal center, but his ordeal was far from over. Gertjie remained so devastated at his mother’s murder that he refused to sleep. Staff members have taken to staying with the rhino, keeping him company at night so he can get some rest.
The story or Gertjie has now made nationwide headlines. News outlets have picked up on his story, and the case gained so much interest that the center decided to share more information. Staff members have set up live streaming video so people can watch the resilient baby rhino “taking long walks, [having] mud baths and grazing”.
The sad story is all too common in South Africa, experts say.
An analysis from the nation’s Department of Environmental Affairs in early 2013 found that 158 black rhinos were killed in just the first three month of that year. A total of 668 animals were killed in 2012.
South African officials have launched an assault against illegal poachers, though they face a difficult battle. The black market for powdered rhino horn is nearly $30,000 a pound.
Those who want to help out Gertjie the baby rhino can take action. The team at hte Hoedspruit Endangered Species Center is appealing for donations to buy the expensive fat-free milk needed to help the rhino grow. Gertjie will remain at the center until he is about 18 months old, and then will be released back into the wild.