At Midday of the 22nd of June 2018 a rhino calf was spotted in the Marumbeni area in Kruger National Park. This calf in particular belonged to a female that had been poached back on the 11th of May 2018 which meant she had been walking in the bush for nearly 6 weeks. Veterinarian Dr Dewald Keet darted the calf at 15:28 and brought her to a holding pen at the Phalaborwa Gate. Two Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary staff members drove through the night to retrieve the orphaned young rhino calf.
Fern, as she is now known, arrived safely at Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary at 04:15 the following day after a steady journey back through the Kruger National Park. Often being used to symbolize peace and new beginnings, fern plants are used for healing, which is why it is a fitting name for this 11-month-old rhino calf.
Fern had suffered from numerous wounds. Hyena’s and lions had attacked her multiple times, all over her body, including biting off half of her tail and leaving three of her legs with terrible bite wounds. Her back legs were especially wounded from trying to run away from the predators. She was extremely tired, fatigued and stressed from the long, lonely weeks she had spent fighting for her life with no mother at her side.
Fern spent her first day at Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary, resting. By the end of the day, Fern stood up and showed she was ready to come out. Petronel Nieuwoudt, founder and owner of Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary, and her team prepared one of the enclosures for Fern, but there was a surprise waiting for her in the enclosure. When the Care for Wild Team released Fern into the boma enclosure, Fern was welcomed by two of the older orphaned rhinos, Leo and Faye. The meeting was very calm and loving. Fern was very curious to explore her new surroundings, but she was also interested in having rhino company, something she hasn’t felt in weeks. After the meet and greet, Fern laid down to take a nap.
When she awoke later that night, Petronel was waiting with a bottle of warm sweet milk. With the soothing and loving voice of Petronel, Fern felt comfortable and began to drink the milk from the bottle! She drank and drank, while care takers quickly made more and more milk for her to drink her fill. Six litres of milk later, Fern laid her head on Petronel’s lap and fell asleep like a baby.
A few days later, on the 29 June 2018, Fern was introduced to four other orphaned rhinos more her size and age. Khanya, Rose Petal, Rubybelle and Summer welcomed Fern into their crash with love. We are happy to say that Fern has now settled in well with her new family of rhinos, she is drinking warm, sweet milk regularly and grazing in the fields every day. Fern’s wounds are being monitored and tended to by her caretakers, daily, and her general spirit is lifting each day.
We would like to thank everyone involved for their love and support towards Fern and she moves forward into her beautiful future.