Three-month-old Isibindi has been attacked by hyenas‚ is unable to eat‚ is suffering with a serious infection and is severely dehydrated — but the little rhino calf has refused to give up and is fighting for its life at a northern KwaZulu-Natal orphanage.
On Monday afternoon a call came through to Karen Trendler‚ who heads up the Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage‚ about a rhino in distress. As day turned into night‚ a team that included specialist wildlife vet Mike Toft searched for the little one — but it was to no avail.
It was likely that the rhino would not make it through the night‚ but miraculously Isibindi — whose name means “Courage” in isiZulu — survived and was taken to the orphanage.
“Sitting with a tiny calf who’s having a rough time‚” Trendler wrote on Facebook on Tuesday. “Calf is here‚ alive and under treatment — but is critical. Loads of positive and healing thoughts‚ and coffee‚ needed to get through the night.”
Again‚ Isibindi made it through the night despite the odds. But the scary severity of her condition means she’s not out yet out of the woods. It seems that Isibindi was undernourished because her mother was unable to produce enough milk because of the drought. On top of this‚ she was bitten by hyenas despite her mom’s best efforts to chase them away.
“The wounds on little Isibindi’s neck and head appear to be due to hyena bites. The bites are badly infected and were infested with maggots. The tick load also increases rapidly and dramatically when a calf is in a weakened state. A combination of trauma and damage caused by the bites‚ the infection and inflammation are causing neurological problems. One of the bites has broken bone‚” said Trendler.
This has left the calf unable to lift her head and unable to stand — and along with dehydration and an inability to eat‚ she is “severely compromised“.
“Rhino calves‚ especially little ones‚ are vulnerable to predators. In this case it appears that the mother was able to chase the hyenas off and keep the predators at bay over a 4-day period. Isibindi’s mom apparently fought hard to protect her calf…and remained with the calf even in its very weakened state. Sometimes a rhino cow will give up and simply leave the calf if it is too weak to follow or feed‚ but this mom really tried hard‚” said Trendler.
But even with the mom’s fight and with Isibindi still fighting hard herself‚ the calf might not make it.
“The calf is currently critical and prognosis poor‚ but every effort will be made to return the calf for full release back to the wild‚” she said.
– TMG Digital/Durban Newsroom