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Rhino orphans go wild

Ithuba and Thando, our rhino orphans, who returned home last year are now in their second phase of rehabilitation – welcoming them back to the wild side! Both Rhino were released into the reserve on the 15th February – watch their release here.

Ithuba and Thando investigate a ranger in their boma while he fixes a blocked pipe

They had both been living in a boma, where Qwenza, their rhino monitor, had been feeding them grass, lucern and pellets on a daily basis. On the 11th February we darted both of the orphans and fitted them with foot collars. These collars will allow us to track the progress of the rhinos as they venture out of their boma and into the reserve. Having never interacted with any bush creatures – we are interested to see how they interact with the wild Rhino and animals! Thank-you to Anthony and Vision Africa Wildlife for the donation of the 2 foot collars.

Karen secures a foot collar on Ithuba’s back left leg

Joy Meglasson from Freeland Foundation, organised a diverse group of people to visit the reserve and sponsor the darting and collaring of our orphaned rhinos. This was a great opportunity to teach an audience of old and young about the importance of the rhino conservation work we do at Manyoni. Guests enjoyed an educational discussion with veterinarian Mike Toft while they were able to touch the Rhinos and take photographs to savor the unique experience for years to come.

Vet, Mike Toft, grinds down the orphans horns while the group looks on in preparation for their release.

Ithuba and Thando’s story

Ithuba’s mom was poached for her horns in April 2015, leaving behind Ithuba, a 6 month old rhino, too young to fend for himself. Later that year in September, in the midst of the drought, we found 5 month old Thando struggling in a dried up dam, once free the little rhino could not find his mom, even after us using all our resources to search the reserve. Both rhino orphans were sent to care facility until they were strong enough to return home.

thuba settling into his new home at the Orphanage

Our most recent rhino orphan, Isomiso, was admitted to a care facility in the peak of the drought last year. Due to his chronic dehydration he did not have vision in the first few weeks, however he has since regained his vision and has been introduced to Makhosi, a white rhino and Charlie a little hippo – the three of them have become inseparable, sharing a mattress every evening, they provide comfort and companionship to one another which is vital for their successful rehabilitation.

White rhinos Isomiso and Makhosi have found a friend in Charlie the hippo

Our orphaned black rhino Nandi is still at the rhino orphanage, and has bonded with another black rhino by the name of Storm. Storm does not belong to us, however we are working with his reserve to rehabilitate both rhino together to ensue their successful re-introduction into the wild.

Nandi the black rhino growing fast and almost ready to return home

The Zululand Conservation Trust fund the rehabilitation process of all the orphaned rhinos from the Manyoni Private Game Reserve, if you wish to make a donation towards these babies future, please follow this link. 

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