Baby rhino found huddled by dead mother's body after poacher attack

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Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary

A baby rhino continues to recover from trauma and heartbreak after he was found huddled by his dead mother's side last spring.

The pair was attacked by poachers in the Kruger National Park.

Jooles Kilbride with Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary tells KTVU they are sharing Arthur's story with the hope of raising awareness about the survivors of poaching. "It is important for people to know that Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary is the last bastion of hope for these orphans" said Kilbride. 

Field rangers reported hearing a gunshot in the Kruger National Park on May 20th. 

A helicopter crew was dispatched and found the body of a white rhino. Poachers had taken both of the rhino's horns and had attacked her calf with a machete. He had serious injuries to his back and right foot. 

According to a spokesperson for the Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary, "It was instinctive for him to try and stay close to his mother to protect her, and the poachers with no sympathy or hesitation whatsoever lashed out at him so that they could finish their heinous crime of taking his mother’s horn as quickly as possible."

A veterinarian cleaned and bandaged the calf's wounds before it was flown to Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary. 

The calf was not dehydrated because he had apparently nursed from his mother earlier that day. 

The staff at Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary was pleased when the calf took to a bottle. Rescuers began feeding him one liter of milk every two hours along with a rotation of pain killers. 

Rescuers named the calf Arthur, saying it's a brave name that suits his spirit to survive.

According to Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary rhino calves often stay with their mothers until they are three years old. In that time, rhinos learn how to survive and thrive from their mothers. "He still calls for his mother, it is a heart wrenching sound and one that he should never have to make.  Her death will affect him emotionally long after his physical wounds have healed," said a spokesperson with Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary. 

Kilbride states that rhinos could be gone from the wild within 20 years and extinct within 50 if the poaching problem is not addressed. In the meantime Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary will continue to do all that it can to ensure that this does not happen. "We hope Arthur's story and the stories of our other survivors will help to raise awareness about the poaching epidemic," said Kilbride. 

According to its website, there are more than 40 orphaned rhinos at Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary. Learn how to help here.