In the vast wilderness of our special reserve, where nature’s wonders are both awe-inspiring and fragile, another remarkable event has recently unfolded – an extraordinary birth that symbolizes hope, resilience, and the triumph of conservation efforts.

This is the touching tale of a rhino calf, born to a poaching victim mother, who was rehabilitated and released back into the wild. The story exemplifies the power of human compassion and the unwavering commitment to safeguarding our planet’s endangered species.

Before we delve into the uplifting story, it is crucial to acknowledge the harsh reality that rhinos face in the modern world. Unscrupulous poachers relentlessly target these majestic creatures for their valuable horns, driven by the insatiable demand for illegal wildlife products. These acts of greed not only threaten the very existence of rhinos but also devastate ecosystems and disrupt the delicate balance of nature.

Our story begins with a defenceless rhino cow who fell victim to the brutal clutches of poaching on a nearby Reserve. Found starving and near death, nine days after her mother’s ruthless poaching on Boxing Day of 2016, the fragile calf was finally rescued, and she was admitted to the Rhino Revolution Rehabilitation Facility.

The calf was christened Chipoko, meaning “ghost” in Shona. She earned her name by deftly eluding the dedicated tracking team who searched relentlessly for her throughout the long hot days after the brutal poaching of her mother.  Surviving during that time on mud alone, she suffered from multiple digestive issues upon arrival at the orphanage, requiring swift medical attention to save her life. Months of tireless rehabilitation followed, during which time she was nurtured with expert care, love, and patience by the veterinary nurses; Jade Aldridge and Natalie Rogers who oversaw the facility, which was situated on the Khaya Ndlovu Safari Manor property.

After spending four years at the facility, Chipoko and her four companions from the orphanage, who were all victims of poaching and had been raised there, were finally released onto the Rietspruit Game Reserve to reintegrate into their natural habitat. Not long after their release, a dominant bull joined the group of orphans, having abandoned his previous territory on the Reserve to court the newly arrived females.

The Reserve community eagerly anticipated the birth of Chipoko’s baby, especially after her nursery companion, Massingita, gave birth to a calf in the wild 18 months ago. After holding our collective breaths in anticipation of Chipoko’s big day, our patience was finally rewarded in early May when Chipoko’s baby eventually arrived.

This heart-warming story is a testament to the resilience of life, a beacon of hope for a species on the brink of extinction. This calf, born into a world that had nearly claimed her mother’s life, embodied the triumph of conservation over poaching.

The tale of the two rhino calves’ births to their poaching victim mothers who were rehabilitated and released back into the wild is a testament to the triumph of compassion, resilience, and conservation efforts. It encourages us to continue with our costly antipoaching efforts, to protect the endangered species, and safeguard the delicate balance of our ecosystems.


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