On 7th June 2019, Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary received a call from Bruce at the Mala Mala game reserve, Greater Kruger. A calf estimated to be between the ages 18-20 months had been identified walking alone. It is believed that Mayar’s mother was actually killed close to the boundary within the Kruger National Park. Mayar, frightened, alone and disorientated, ran through to Mala Mala.
Although Mayar was an older calf, the decision was made to bring her to Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary as she seemed very weak and distressed and would likely have fallen victim to predators.
Care for Wild staff Mark Cherry and MTPA Veterinarian Dr Ferreira du Plessis, set off at 11am to drive the six hour journey to collect Mayar. On arrival Dr Ferreira joined the team in the helicopter and the she was darted from the air. The ground team followed on foot and safely secured her and applied a blindfold and ear plugs. Dr Ferreira assessed the calf and was pleased to see that there were no injuries or wounds however she was extremely dehydrated.
I/V fluids were given to the calf on the journey back to Care for Wild, with regular stops to check her breathing and temperature. Mayar arrived at Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary at 11pm where Petronel and the team were waiting in the ICU. Due to the cold night ahead, Mayar slept in the travelling crate to allow her to rest and receive more I/V fluids. Mayar rested well and began to stir in the early hours of the morning.
Due to her age and size, Mayar was moved to the boma nightpens the next morning. Mayar was already weaned on arrival and so did not need to be given milk or a bottle. Instead, a scrumptious buffet of food had been prepared for her and she was given time to sleep and rest undisturbed.
Mayar was monitored very carefully over the next 48 hours and it quickly became apparent that she was struggling to adapt and process the trauma that she went through. We believe that Mayar watched her mother brutally murdered; this trauma was so extensive and her stress levels so high that she refused to eat. She lost the sparkle in her eyes and we were fearful that she didn’t want to fight for her survival. Mayar may have been a 20 month old calf physically, but in her mind had reverted to a tiny baby.
Veterinarians Dr Albertus Coetzee and Dr Ferreira du Plessis returned to give Mayar high protein drips to keep her alive. Care for Wild staff worked around the clock to encourage her to eat. Desperately needing nutrition, Petronel and the team managed to succeed in getting her to take a bottle of milk.
This was a positive step forward. Mayar was drinking 30L of milk a day but this was not enough to sustain a 20 month old calf. Petronel quickly made the decision to introduce her to other rhinos in the hope that they would offer her comfort. Although rejected by Khanya’s group, Ribbon and Lazuli accepted Mayar into their crash however this presented other concerns. Mayar was a big baby and Ribbon was still very small. Mayar looked for comfort by laying over the other orphans as she would do with her mother and staff were concerned for Ribbon’s safety.
On the 29th June another calf was orphaned. Little Blossom lost her mother to poachers and was shot through the neck and her tail chewed by hyena. Blossom had had also suffered immense trauma but little did we know how this shared pain would bring Mayar and Blossom together. It is evident that Blossom saved Mayar and Mayar saved Blossom, each offering the other comfort and healing that only another rhino can provide.
Today, they are the very best of friends and inseparable. Four months after arriving, they have only now joined the other younger orphans and are slowly integrating into the bigger crash.