Often after their mothers have been killed by poachers, rhino calves stay close to the corpse; most orphans die from dehydration or injuries.
Watch: A heartrending story of a calf orphaned by poaching. (May be distressing to some viewers.)
Rescuing calves from such situations is problematic: when they are transported to a rehabilitation venue the young rhinos are at high risk of further injury and going into shock - a common cause of death when wildlife is handled and transported.
For this reason, the rhino conservation organisation Outraged SA Citizens Against Poaching (OSCAP) saw the need for Rhino Ambulances - specially designed trailers for transporting calves from poaching incidents as calmly and comfortably as possible.
Renowned wildlife rehabilitation specialist Karen Trendler advised on various modifications, which include air conditioning, soothing red lighting and hooks from which to hang drips. The walls of the ambulance are lined with rubber matting to help prevent further injuries to the orphans if they panic once inside.
Each equipped Ambulance costs around R100 000; individuals and companies interested in sponsoring this initiative can contact Allison Thompson of OSCAP (+27 74 1040208). You can also support OSCAP on Facebook.
The rhino ambulance
Wild calling: the work of wildlife rehabilitators
Over 1000 rhinos poached in 2013
Whale meat off the menu
Image: Gallo Images, Shutterstock
Olivia Rose-Innes is Health24’s EnviroHealth Editor. Read more of her columns and articles or post a question to her expert forum.