Meet the miracle workers who treat rhinos scarred by poaching

Saving The Survivors does incredible work in South Africa to rehabilitate rhinos that have been hacked by poachers for their horns. Since 2012, Project Save the Survivors has also been nurturing orphaned rhinos, left behind when trophy hunters slaughter their mothers. It also remains busy fixing up animals hurt by snares.

In South Africa, these so-called survivors are counted at between 80 and 120 per year. Those numbers will only soar, according to the non-profit group, as the poaching epidemic continues.

Recently, the organization took in a 4-week-old rhino suffering under traumatic circumstances. His mother was killed by poachers in the Limpopo region. The baby rhino, now called Pelham, was left unharmed, but incredibly stressed.

Here he is being transported under sedation to safety.


“Little Pelham is battling to settle. He is wound up and very stressed. He is in urgent need of Denkavit milk formula. Due to the stress , we have put him on Omepracote (anti ulcer medication) to help him deal with the stress and transition from mother’s milk to formula,” the group noted on Facebook.


And, quickly he bounced back and was feeding.


Sadly, the number of animals that require help seems unrelenting. A second orphan has now joined Pelham.

Another such tiny victim is Wynter, whose mother was poached and she was left alone to battle a pack of hyenas. By the time volunteers found her collapsed on a road last November, bite marks covered her head and her ears were chewed off. But she too is a survivor.



A few animals are brought to the animal hospital, but most are treated in the bush in familiar surroundings. (The areas  frequently visited are Mpumalanga, Limpopo and the Northern Cape.)

Here’s a female rhino whose horn was cut away by poachers, but with quick care, is on the mend.


Here’s another, named Thandi. This sequence of photos is heartbreaking and then, heartwarming. People can make a difference.


But they are the lucky ones. The death toll is staggering. Poachers killed 668 rhinos in South Africa in 2012. A year later, 1,004 animals were taken and last year, 1,215 were hit. According to Saving The Survivors, 2015 is on track for another record year in the poaching business.

The cost of saving even a single rhinoceros is massive once veterinary bills, medication, food and facility costs are calculated, which is why the organization relies heavily on donations. Supporters include the South African Veterinary Association, University of Pretoria as well as corporate donors and regular folks.


Photos Saving The Survivors/Facebook

About the author

Recovering newspaper reporter.


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