Friday 24 June 2022


A new female calf was recently dramatically rescued and brought to the Zululand Rhino Orphanage (ZRO). The calf’s mother had been one of the victims of the devastating onslaught of poachers in the area, and after the rhino cow’s body was found, it took rangers over three days to find the baby rhino calf. 

During this time, the rhino calf had been on her own without milk and water, highly traumatised by the whole experience of her mother’s death. When rangers did locate her, she was so stressed that during the process of capturing her, she ran for over 3km before the team managed to get her.

UPDATE - Week 2

Lucky Girl was exhausted and slept for most of her first 24 hours at Zululand Rhino Orphanage but was still not keen to drink milk. The carers felt she was a little depressed and decided to let her out into the pole boma. Lucky Girl perked up, immediately starting to graze and drink water. She seemed calmer and more relaxed and the carers spent time near her in the boma, gaining her trust. Later in the day, she was introduced to Leko and Tweed and the three young rhinos happily sniffed each other and touched noses. When the carers gave Leko and Tweed their afternoon feed, they offered Lucky Girl a bottle too. She approached shyly, watching the boys drink their bottle, gave hers a sniff but backed away.

Two weeks after her arrival at the orphanage, the carers began to notice a change in Lucky Girl. She was found in the pole boma lying on her side and not responding. They managed to get her up and into the container. She wasn’t walking well and her back legs appeared to be very stiff. She lay down, clearly sore and uncomfortable. Trever the vet was called and he did various tests as well putting her on a drip and making her comfortable. Her diagnosis is capture myopathy and muscle breakdown.

For every successful rhino orphan recovery, there are also more difficult ones. How each young rhino reacts to the death of its mother, particularly under such brutal circumstances, varies from calf to calf and whilst all rhino orphanages are primed and ready to take in a rescued calf, nothing can really prepare them for how the animal might be on arrival and what its needs will be to survive. All the orphanage team can do is always be prepared and take one day at a time.

For Lucky Girl, it took over ten days to eventually get her to drink some milk from a bowl. As you can imagine, trying to get a calf to take the all-important milk by bowl is incredibly difficult and time-consuming and involves infinite amounts of patience. Lucky Girl is making progress but there is still a long way to go, especially after the traumatic time she had on her own in the bush.

   Film by Ben Wallace

Lucky Girl's Arrival

When found, she was rushed to the orphanage and the ZRO staff nicknamed her Lucky Girl after her very lucky survival in the wild on her own where the team at the ZRO prepared the Intensive Care Unit container ready for her arrival. 

At times like this, every detail is important and speed is of the essence. On arrival, the calf was weighed and estimated to be around six months old. Despite her ordeal and being a little dehydrated, her condition was okay. She was seen by the orphanage’s regular vet, Trever who did a thorough check on her and removed her blindfold and ear plugs. Once she was settled, she was offered a small milk bottle but unfortunately she wouldn’t take it. 

Lucky Girl was exhausted and slept for most of the first 24 hours but was still not keen to drink milk. 

This was the start of a very difficult time for the carers. Lucky Girl continued to refuse anything and everything they tried to give her. They tried different concentrations and variations of milk from milk balls to milk paste, giving milk in a bowl or a different type of dish. They tried everything they could think of to coax her, but she wasn’t responding. 

   Film by Ben Wallace


Lucky Girl is going to need a lot of support and help over the coming weeks. She needs to drink milk 5 times a day in order to keep well fed and hydrated. She also needs twenty-four-hour round-the-clock care to comfort her just as a mother would, and she needs professional veterinary support to ensure her growth and wellness is constant. 

Every rhino really does count and only with your support can we get Lucky Girl through these early traumatic months. Please give what you can to help this still vulnerable little orphan.

It costs approximately £950 per month to nurse a rhino orphan through her first precarious years but, with one rhino still being poached every day, every rhino we can rescue and nurture to adulthood will make a difference to the survival of the species - this little girl is no exception. Most orphans are cared for and protected for up to three years before they can be released back into the wild.

If the current levels of poaching in the area continue to go on unabated and there is an influx of more orphans, there will be a need to get more ICU containers, increases carer numbers and adapt facilities to cope with the pressure and increase in the orphanage’s capacity. 

Please donate to help Lucky Girl survive after her harrowing ordeal and the loss of her mother.

Thank you in advance of your generosity and rest assured, we will keep you up to date with her progress and growth.

DONATE to help Lucky Girl



Rhino Poaching Crisis in parts of South Africa has led to an influx of rhino orphans.

There has been a marked increase in rhino poaching incidents across the South African province of KwaZulu Natal (KZN) since the start of the year with around 126 killed up to the end of May. Compared with the 102 rhinos poached in KZN in the whole of 2021 and 93 in 2020, this is an alarming spike which if left unchecked could have irreparable and devastating consequences not just for the rhino population of KwaZulu Natal, but for South Africa as a whole. 

Last year the Zululand Rhino Orphanage (ZRO) gave a home to white rhino orphan Leko. Leko was only three days old when his mother was poached. Through the dedication and hard work of the staff and his determination to live, Leko is now over a year old and enjoying life in the orphanage. The success of Leko’s rescue and rehabilitation was also helped considerably by the very kind donations of our supporters through the Emergency Rhino Orphan Appeal. Every amount donated really does make a difference to these very young orphans. Leko was the first rhino orphan rescued from a local reserve for over two years. But 2022 has been a different story

At the beginning of March, a male rhino calf was rescued from a nearby reserve and brought into the ZRO. The calf, thought to be around 3 months old at the time, was found by the Reserve patrol team, hiding under a bush close to his mother’s body. The calf was named Tweed by the owners of the of the Reserve where he was found. He now lives alongside Leko in the ZRO.

All donations will to help cover the costs of caring for Lucky Girl and the running of the Zululand Rhino Orphanage. A small percentage will help to cover administrative costs.