Headline News
31 May 2019

Pilanesberg – Wednesday 22 May was a sad day for the Pilanesberg Wildlife Trust (PWT). While on their daily patrol in Pilanesberg, near Makorwane dam, Bathawk pilots discovered a deceased black rhino cow. 

The rhino, named Magdalene, was found with her horns still intact. Born in the Pilanesberg in 1995, Magdalene has played a key role in growing the Pilanesberg black rhino populations. 

Preliminary investigations yield that Magdalene died a natural death. The Pilanesberg Wildlife Trust (PWT) is devastated by the loss – as she died relatively young in rhino years. Tissue samples will be sent away to determine the cause of death.

Devastatingly, Magdalene was rarely seen without her infant calf. 
Magdalene gave birth to the calf a few months ago. 

Supporting with the search for the young calf, Nico Jacobs of Rhino 911, was called in to assist. Rhino 911 is an avid supporter of the Pilanesberg rhino wildlife. Nico, and Andrew Jackson of the Black Rhino Wildlife Trust (BRWT), jumped into action and combed the park in search of the rhino.  

When they got to the scene where Magdalene was found, they came across a pack of lions feeding on the carcass. This little brave calf was found not too far from his mother, hiding in the brush.  

Zodiac Vet doctor Gerhardus Scheepers came out to assist with immobilising the calf for transportation. The calf was quickly darted from the air, immobilised, loaded, and transferred to The Rhino Orphanage (TRO).  

Andrew was asked to name this precious calf – since he found him – and so their latest orphan was dubbed Ryan.

Ryan is about nine or 10 months old and will need to be looked after for the next couple of years. TRO is a vital organisation in the raising and support of rhino orphans. They love and raise rhinos and rely heavily on funding. 

Despite the tragic loss of his mother, Ryan is adapting quickly and already has his eye and ear covers off and is allowing members at TRO to stroke his little face... and the latest news is that he is healthily feeding on milk too!  

The Pilanesberg Wildlife Trust would like to extend their gratitude to their Rhino Protection Unit, Bathawk Pilots, Rhino 911, Zodiac Vet, BRWT and TRO for the passion and support throughout the operation.  A big thank you to Charlotte Marais of Copenhagen Zoo Research and Reginah Smith of the Rhino Protection Unit, for staying with little Ryan.

PWT relies on donations to make these rescues possible. Costs like vet bills and chopper expenses, if Rhino 911 is not available, are all settled by the PWT. For more information contact Perry Dell on 082 367 9026.

It was a team effort to save little Ryan. Photos: Perry Dell.
Little Ryan ready to go to the “orphanage”
The task team worked hard to ensure Ryan’s safety. Photo: Perry Dell.


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