Swinging into action for rhino orphans

From left: Eckert Giliomee, AutoZone; Kenny Arnold, CI Automotive; Roland Bosse, AutoZone; Sean Rogers, CI Automotive; Frans Lombard, CI Automotive; Kevin Rogers, CI Automotive; Kyle Young, AutoZone and Richard Berner, CI Automotive.

Gabriel, the locally designed and manufactured shock absorber brand of the JSE-listed Control Instruments Group, in partnership with the national auto spares retailer AutoZone, hosted a golf day to raise funds for The Rhino Orphanage.

The event took place at the Legend Golf & Safari Resort in Limpopo with 100 plus participants. “The success of the event has prompted us to commit to running it annually for another three years in aid of this worthy cause,” says Sean Staley, divisional head at Gabriel. “With the high rate of rhino poaching, care needs to be taken of the rhino calves left behind.”

Karen Trendler, a conservationist at the orphanage, who has raised around 200 baby rhinos over two decades, adds: “Sadly, in many instances there are calves that are orphaned. We saw the need to provide specialist care.” A third of slain rhinos are either pregnant cows or mothers with calves.

The Rhino Orphanage is owned by Legend Lodges and covers an area of 220 km2 in the Entabeni Safari Conservancy in the Waterberg area of Limpopo. It is the world’s first dedicated, non-commercial centre to care for rhino calves.  

The orphanage can house up to 35 calves, which are rehabilitated back into the wild by a team of conservationists. The facility also includes four high-care rooms and one intensive-care chamber where sick calves receive 24-hour attention and can be treated in an incubator.

Conservation manager Arrie van Deventer explains: “As they become older we release them into larger areas, until they are about two-and-a-half to three years old, and then they are released back into nature.” If contact with humans is limited, rhinos can successfully readapt to the wild.

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