Rhino Mom's Horns Were Cut Off — But She Survived For Her Baby
She was shot with a dart and then had her horns cut off her face. Management at the reserve she lived on with her calf discovered her shortly after the attack and immediately called for assistance to help save her life.
WARNING: Graphic image below.
Rita wasn't alone either - she had a young calf by her side, who would have become an orphan if Rita hadn't been rescued by the South African-based group Saving The Survivors (STS).
The same group rescued Hope, a famous rhino who also gruesomely lost her face to poachers and has been on the mend for months. It only made sense that Rita would be placed into STS's care and receive the same opportunity to heal.
Rita was fitted with a circular white plate to cover her wound - and the rescue group says that Rita's horns are not lost to her forever.
"The horns will only grow back in the areas where the growth plate was not damaged/removed," STS wrote on Facebook. "So she will have some regrowth, but it will be haphazard."
The rescue noted that it is possible for Rita to be released into the wild again along with her calf once she is fully healed.
A recent update on Rita's condition said that both Rita and her baby are doing well. According to the post, they were both released into a large camp with plenty of shrubbery available. They've been eating and behaving normally, which bodes well for the future of their little family.
There are only about 5,000 black rhinos left in the wild. Although trophy hunters nearly made the species go extinct in the 20th century, their numbers have since been on the rise thanks to conservation efforts, according to the World Wildlife Fund, which also notes that there is still a lot of work to be done in order to ensure those population numbers stay up.
"Rita is only 18 years old, and thus, can still have at least three to four more calves," STS wrote on Facebook.
"The importance of saving her is to help ensure the survival of the species," the post read.
Watch this video of Rita happily reuniting with her calf after the surgery: