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article imageBaby rhino scared to sleep alone after mother killed by poachers

By Megan Hamilton     Jun 12, 2014 in Environment
After witnessing the brutal death of his mother, Gertjie the baby rhino cried inconsolably and was unable to sleep. Not quite four months old, he is too young to fend for himself.
Fortunately, this is where the staff at Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre comes in. The little rhino was rescued by rangers and brought to the centre, according to ABC News.
Little Gertjie was found next to his mother, who was brutally killed by poachers in the Kapama Game Reserve.
"It was a devastating sight, as the tiny animal would not leave her side, and was crying inconsolably for her," Centre staff members wrote.
On his first night at the Centre, staff members kept him company. Even a surrogate sheep named Skapp helped him to adjust to his first night without his mother. Poor little Gertjie is too afraid to be alone at night, but he’s adjusting well to his new life — taking mud baths and going on walks twice daily, according to The Huffington Post.
Unfortunately, many baby rhinos are probably not as lucky as Gertjie is. Since the beginning of 2014, at least 442 rhinos in South Africa have been killed by poachers, according to a statement released by the Department of Environmental Affairs of the Republic of South Africa and a total of 123 poachers have been arrested.
Other figures include:
• Kruger National Park — 293 rhinos have been killed and 56 poachers, including a former ranger and two policemen, have been arrested.
• Limpopo — 48 rhinos have been killed.
• KwaZulu Natal — 41 rhinos have been killed.
Rhinos are found in Africa and Asia. Sadly populations of these prehistoric creatures have plummeted drastically since the beginning of the 20th Century — from 500,000 to just 29,000, according to this graphic from the Huffington Post. At the current rate of poaching, the world's rhino population may vanish completely.
South Africa is home to 73 percent of the world's rhinos, Al Jazeera reports.
The ugly truth is that rhino horn is now more valued than gold. One kilo of gold is worth over $42,000. Shockingly, one kilo of rhino horn goes for over $100,000.
Rhinos are being decimated so that their horns can be used for traditional carvings—especially dagger handles, according to Rhinoremedy.com. Traditional Chinese medicine makes up most of the demand, however. Some people persist in believing that rhino horn can treat ailments like rheumatism, gout, fever, typhoid fever, snake bites, and vomiting. Incredibly, some people still believe that it can be used to prevent demon possession, and lately, it’s gaining popularity as a cancer cure when there is absolutely no evidence that rhino horn cures anything. It’s been tested thoroughly and has no medical properties, rhinoremedy reports.
Safe in the protective hands of staff members at the Centre, Gertjie is thriving at 242 pounds. He has a healthy appetite and gets a mite grumpy when he's hungry, ABC reports. He's being fed a steady diet of 1.5 litres (or about 50 ounces) of fat-free milk powder, vitamins, glucose and hot water eight times per day. He'll need this milk for the next 15-18 months.
The Centre focuses on the conservation of rare, vulnerable or endangered species, so little Gertjie is in a good place.
More about baby rhino, gertjie, Hoedspruit endangered species centre, South Africa, Huffington Post
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