6 min read

Baby Rhino Who Lost Mom To Poachers Refused To Leave Her Side

The best people found her in time — and her new family includes someone very special ❤️

Pacing around and nuzzling her mother’s body, the baby rhino couldn’t stop crying.

Her mom wasn’t moving — and she had no idea why.

rhino baby poachers horns south africa
Facebook/Rhino 911

As the baby tried to nurse, her mother’s body just lay limp in the dirt. She had been shot and her horns were stolen by poachers, leaving the 1-month-old baby with no one else to turn to.

This was the harrowing scene rescuers from Rhino 911 witnessed in a South African national park last week. As they watched the calf guarding her mother’s body, the group devised a plan to bring the young orphan, whom they named Charlotte, to safety.

After tranquilizing the tiny rhino, the team loaded her into the back of their SUV and contacted The Rhino Orphanage, a rescue that specializes in raising babies her age.

To minimize the stress of the car ride, Charlotte wore a blindfold and small caps around her ears to block noise. She started on IV fluids right away, since she was severely dehydrated.

rhino rescue baby horns south africa poacher
Facebook/The Rhino Orphanage

“She did well through the night,” rescuers said in an update the morning after. “We are grateful for the team who found her and the rescue team who responded so swiftly.”

While Charlotte was timid about drinking from a bottle during the first few days, caretakers gently worked with her to acclimate her to the new food source while she was still blindfolded.

rhino orphan poacher south africa
Facebook/The Rhino Orphanage

Early one morning, caretakers removed her blindfold to start getting her used to seeing people — and after everything she had been through, Charlotte had the sweetest reaction.

“The team removed her blindfold in the early hours of the morning, expecting the full wrath of an angry little rhino,” caretakers said. “But instead, [we] found a lost little soul that just wanted comfort and closeness of anything with a heartbeat. Baby Charlotte called throughout the night until daybreak and snuggled up close to the carers — in fact, right in between them.”

rhino orphan mother killed poacher south africa
Facebook/The Rhino Orphanage

After less than a week in the care of the orphanage, Charlotte has already formed a particularly strong bond with Mofalodi, another baby rhino who also witnessed her mother get killed by poachers.

“Little Charlotte got extremely excited and just couldn’t stop running,” caretakers said about the rhinos’ first meeting. “The joy was contagious to all the human mommies keeping close watch.”

rhino poachers babies south africa
Charlotte and her friend Mofalodi | Facebook/The Rhino Orphanage

Their newfound happiness together is a far cry from the pair’s uncertain fates following the death of their mothers before they were rescued. When poachers target rhinos with calves, it’s common for them to also kill the babies before moving in to cut off their mother’s horns.

According to Save the Rhino, an average of three rhinos are killed by poachers each day in South Africa because their horns are mistakenly believed to have cancer-fighting properties in traditional Asian medicine. A rhino’s horn, however, is made up of keratin, the same material as a human fingernail. The horns are sold for an thousands of dollars on the black market.

rescued rhinos poachers south africa
Charlotte and Mofalodi walking together in the sun | Facebook/The Rhino Orphanage

Even though Charlotte and Mofalodi no longer have their moms, it’s clear they’ve become family to each other. Throughout the day, the new friends lay in the sun together, go on long walks and even play ball.

rescue rhinos south africa poachers
Charlotte and Mofalodi snuggled up at night | Facebook/The Rhino Orphanage

And when night comes, they cuddle up in blankets together and quickly fall asleep — with no worries in the world whether they are safe.

To support the ongoing care of Charlotte and her new friend Mofalodi, you can make a donation to The Rhino Orphanage.