Thandi Gives Birth to Third Calf Called Mthetho

Friday 12 April 2019


On Thursday 4th April 2019, Helping Rhinos hosted its spring event, ‘Rhinos Road to Recovery’ at the Royal Geographical Society in London. It was a highly successful evening raising £60,000. These funds will be used to develop ground- breaking technology on Ol Pejeta in Kenya with both wildlife and domestic animals in the local communities benefitting.

But that wasn’t the only good news of the day! Helping Rhinos CEO Simon Jones received breaking news of the birth of poaching survivor Thandi’s new calf at Kariega Game Reserve in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. It is her third calf, seven years after surviving a horrific poaching incident where she was left for dead.

Kariega Game Reserve said that its field guides spotted Thandi's new calf, a little boy, on Wednesday 3rd April. Thandi had separated from her other two calves Thembi and Colin and moved into thick bush. When she emerged on Wednesday, she surprised the field guides by being followed by a tiny baby. This was the first sighting of Thandi and her new little calf after his birth.

On hearing the news, Simon commented: "Thandi has played a significant role in my life and is a huge part of why Helping Rhinos exists today. To get news of her third calf fills me with such pride. I know this news will inpire many others to want to help protect rhinos in their natural habitat"

Thandi and two male rhinos were discovered on 2nd March 2012 after their horns were brutally removed with machetes and were left to die by poachers. The two males sadly died, whilst Thandi endured numerous operations for two years, including pioneering skin graft surgery under the care of wildlife veterinarian Dr William Fowlds. Her bravery was unbelievable and inspired us to name her Thandi, meaning courage and to be loved in the local isiXhosa language.

Thandi became the first rhino to ever survive a poaching attack. Her story spread around the world and has inspired many people to get involved in rhino conservation.

Thandi went on to have her first baby in January 2015, just less than three years after the poaching. She was named Thembi, which means hope in isiXhosa. Two years on from that in January 2017, Thandi’s second calf was born. The male calf was named Colin in honour of Colin Rushmere, the founder of Kariega Game Reserve.

Although there was speculation in late 2018 that Thandi could be expecting again, the birth of her third calf was still a wonderful surprise and one that Helping Rhinos was thrilled to share with the supporters at the event on Thursday night.

The new calf has been named Mthetho, which means justice in isiXhosa. This is extremely significant as Thandi gave birth to Mthetho in the same week as members of the notorious Ndlovu gang were each given 25 year jail terms. The Ndlovu gang have been responsible for many rhino poaching incidents in the Eastern Cape, and quite possibly responsible for the poaching of Thandi itself.

The names of Thandi and her calves are symbolic of love, courage, hope, victory of the people and justice and are a reminder that we must remain resolute and vigilant in our commitment to the protection and preservation of all rhinos.


If you want to help protect and keep Thandi and her family safe, please visit the link below where you can adopt Mthetho (or Thandi and family). When you adopt Mthetho you'll help with the roll out of conservation education programmes in the areas surrounding Kariega Game Reserve, reducing the likelihood of community members turning to poaching and will keep the Kariega anti-poaching unit up and running, to keep all the rhinos safe within their area of operation.

Adopt Mthetho

Photos courtesy of Kariega Game Reserve and Brett Collett
Video courtesy of Kariega Game Reserve and Jesse Fermor