In the late afternoon of Friday 12th October, CFWRS received notification that a young male rhino calf was on the way from the Malalane area of the Kruger National Park. Twenty minutes later SAN Parks pilot Brad Grafton, landed the helicopter at the CFWRS helipad. Accompanying the eight month calf was SAN Park’s Veterinarian, Dr Peter Buss.
Benjamin was laying in the back of the helicopter, his tiny body in between the seats. His mother had been shot through the shoulder, possibly a couple of days previously. The trauma and pain she suffered caused such horrendous stress that her milk had dried up and she had stopped lactating. When KNP staff discovered the female rhino and her calf, the decision was made to move the mother to the KNP bomas for assessment and her calf was brought to CFWRS.
Petronel and the team carried little Benjamin from the helicopter onto the back of a bakkie. Here they cleaned his eyes and removed the mud and debris before applying a new blindfold and ear plugs. Dr Peter Buss was very concerned about the calf’s dehydration levels and so placed two gelcos in Benjamin’s ears in order to start intravenous fluid therapy immediately.
Benjamin was then driven to the ICU. On the way, staff noticed a significant amount of fluid draining from his nose. When he arrived at the ICU, Petronel and the team immediately began the triage process. Temperature and blood glucose were taken as the process of stabilising him began.
Benjam did not react well to the effects of the tranquilisers and began to tremble. The trauma and stress on his tiny body from the previous few days began to take its toll and he started to go into shock. The team worked around the clock continuing with I/V fluids and critical care. Benjamin slept a lot, too tired and weak to stand up.
At 05:20 on Saturday morning, the first glimmer of hope emerged as Benjamin began to show signs of consciousness and he took his first bottle. From this moment he continued to go from strength to strength.
After three nights in the ICU, Benjamin was strong enough to be moved to the bomas. Once settled in his new nightpen, his blindfold was removed and staff were able to see just how beautiful this little boy was.
Benjamin is such a sweet natured rhino. Calm, gentle, relaxed and very observant and courageous. He has a soft personality and was given the name Benjamin or Benji for short.
On the Tuesday after his arrival, baby Benjamin was introduced to orphans Ribbon and Lazuli. Ribbon and Lazuli have a very close friendship and do not always accept other rhinos into their crash however, after some initial hesitation from Ribbon, it seemed that the duo would become a trio. Benjamin followed Lazuli around like a shadow and after a while the three babies were wallowing together in the mud.
Ribbon and Lazuli now have a third member in their crash in the form of little Benjamin.