Orphan rhino calf raises awareness about poaching

By Maria Kyriacou

Endangered Species Centre hopes Gertjie the rhino will highlight the dangers posed by demand for the animals' horns

A South African rehab centre is the new home for an adorable baby rhino whose friendship with a sheep has charmed the Internet.

Gertjie wound up at the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Center (HESC) after his mother was brutally murdered in front of him by poachers who were after her horn. The black market provides poachers with the motivation to hunt the beautiful creatures as their horns and other body parts are in high demand.

Rescuers discovered the inconsolable calf hiding by his mother’s body. After sedating him he was taken to his new home for treatment and nourishment.

A video of Gertjie cuddling his keeper first brought him to the world’s attention.

Despite being in good health, Gertjie couldn’t stop crying and refused to sleep alone. The staff at the facility took turns sleeping with him in an effort to soothe the distressed calf.

After 8 months at HESC Gertjie has grown and become best friends with a sheep named Lammie.


The charming Gertjie has now become the face of conservation in South Africa, raising awareness about poaching and orphaned rhinos.

Changing misconceptions about the ‘magical healing powers’ of rhino is crucial, as many cultures believe they can heal everything from arthritis, snakebites and even cancer. In Vietnam a severed rhino head can fetch up to $300,000.



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