Rehabilitated rhino calves released back into the wild

Posted by Anita Froneman on 13 November 2020

After years of rehabilitation at the Zululand Rhino Orphanage, rhinos Mpilo and Makhosi were successfully released into their new, wild home.

‘Mpilo and Makhosi who were both rehabilitated at the Zululand Rhino Orphanage since they were young calves are a conservation success story, and now, they will finally go back into the wild and begin to contribute back to the wild white rhino populations of South Africa,’ wrote Wildlands on Facebook.

Rehabilitated rhino calves released back into the wild

Mpilo and Makhosi were dehorned before being released.

Makhosi was the first to arrive at the orphanage in 2016. The drought that the country was experiencing at this time left her severely dehydrated and malnourished.

Two years later, she was joined by Mpilo, who was 9 months at the time. His mother was brutally killed by poachers.

‘Rehabilitating the two calves was not an easy task as rhino are highly dependent on their mothers for the first few years of life, but the team of staff at the orphanage are excited that we have finally reached the stage when we have to let them go back into the wild, where they belong.

‘This is a proud moment for us, this is our mission, and this is what we strive for. Mpilo and Makhosi can finally go back in the wild and begin to contribute back to the wild white rhino populations in South Africa,’ said Megan Lategaan, who leads the rehabilitation team at the orphanage.

‘Having survived incredibly tragic and traumatic experiences the two calves formed an inseparable bond and a strong companionship with one another as rhino are incredibly social animals. Releasing them together will ensure that they are happy, healthy, and confident so this process is as closely replicated to what they would have done naturally in the wild. Releasing them together as a pair, gives them that much more confidence as they can then draw on each other’s strengths,’ Wildlands added.

The two rhinos were dehorned before spending over a month in habituating in a boma. Human interaction was stopped completely and wildlife rangers and an anti-poaching unit observed the pair to ensure their safety.

Take a look at the orphans’ incredible journey and their release back into the wild:

As a branch of Wildtrust, The Wildlands Species Conservation project aims to support the conservation of endangered and critically endangered species through improved ecosystem management and interventions that secure vulnerable animals.

Wildtrust runs various projects including wildlife conservation, environment conservation, sustainable community development and more.

For further information or get involved, click here.


Picture: Screenshot from Facebook video

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