Orphaned Rhino Calf

Quick Facts on Osita's Journey

Name: Osita, a word of Nigerian (Igbo) origin meaning 'from today onwards it will be better' | Date of Birth: 31 December 2015 | Home: Aquila Game Reserve, Western Cape, South Africa | Weight at rescue: 65 kilograms | Current weight: over 530kg – 1 Sep 2015 (and gaining around 1kg per day) | Feeds: The newborn Osita was initially given 140ml of foal milk formula seven times a day. He is now eating a variety of grasses and approx 30 litres of milk per day, starting with breakfast at 06h00. | Favourite activities: Long walks in the morning and afternoon and daily mud baths | Wake-up time: 06h00 | Bedtime: 21h00 (and many naps during the day)

31st December 2015:

A desperate drama is playing out at Aquila Private Game Reserve, in the western cape, south Africa, after the birth of the third baby rhino in the past 3 months. The two calves born, one in October and the other in mid-December are both thriving, but the third calf, born in the early hours of this morning (New Years Eve) is being rescued from dehydration after being rejected by its mother. To further complicate matters the calf has attached itself to the father, who is very aggressive and is making it impossible for Vets to get near the calf.

31st December

The calf born around 1am on 31st December 201 and was rejected by the mother, an attempt was made by the reserve team to reintroduce the calf to the mother and this failed as she once again rejected the calf. The calf is up and walking but is clearly needing nourishment as the heat of the day sets in it is imperative that the calf is fed.

31st December 2015:

Animal welfare staff and vets at Aquila Private Game Reserve have sourced equinine colostrum to feed to the orphaned rhino, he took to the bottle well. He will now be fed Equinine milk formula every 2 to 3 hours.

6th January 2016: Sleeping arrangements

For the team at Aquila Game Reserve, raising a rhino calf for the first time comes with challenges and they are learning as they go about how to best care for him. A small team of dedicated Aquila staff members, lead by Divan Grobler, makes sure that Osita is never alone. Osita and Grober live together in a staff cottage where Osita has tried numerous times to climb into bed with him.

"He practically destroyed two mattresses within the first few weeks," he says. "We've had to make another plan."

10th January 2016 – first walk

Little Osita has ventured out for his walk into the wilds at Aquila. Together with his carer, Divan Grobler, they venture out every morning and late afternoon for a 30 to 45 minute walk. Rangers at Aquila first check the area to make sure no dangerous animals are around and then give the go ahead to this little team to take to the wilds. The rangers watch from afar to see that there is no danger in the vicinity.

13th January 2016 – first mud bath

In the wild, rhinos spend a lot of time rolling in the mud. This acts as a sunscreen as well as an insect repellent, our little youngster is no different. It took us a while to get just the right mud consistently. These mud baths are the high light of his day.

1st February 2016 - Intelligent

This playful youngster enjoys the company of his human companions for daily walks through the bush, playing with balls and tyres and rolling in his mudbath. In addition to feeding Osita every three hours, they take him for walks, prepare his mud bath, play with him and every morning they rub sunscreen all his body, especially on the tips of his ears.

Grobler says that Osita has very high intelligence ratio. "He knows what times his walks are and is very impatient if we are even a minute late. He bumps the gate as if to say 'Hurry up!'. He also is tuned into the feeding times. In the first two weeks of care we set a ringtone to play every two hours. He has now imprinted this song and he comes running whenever the song is played."

30th March 2016 - Introduce Animal Companion

A young female goat companion has been introduced to Osita. He is very inquisitive and she is quite nervous. From the companion Osita will learn about grazing and other animal behaviours from this animal. As our goal is to reintroduce Osita into the wild with the other rhinos, it is important that he does not get too attached to his human companions but rather to an animal companion.

16th April - Move to Boma

The big day has arrived and Carer, Osita and little “bokkie” move over to their brand new enclosure. Complete with a secure sleeping area for the rhino, human and goat as well as a small “wendy” house which is used for food preparation.

21st April 2016 – first nibble at some grass

Osita has taken his first tentative nibble at some grass. He is not quite sure what to make of this new taste. He sees the little goat (who we have named Bokkie) nibbling and he wants to taste as well.

25th April 2016 – Firm Friends

Osita and his companion little “Bokkie” the goat are firm friends. Osita is very gentle and Bokkie is inclined to push the boundaries a bit. When Osita lies down to sleep bokkie climbs all over him and has perched on top of his head on a number of occasions.

18th May 2016

Osita has started nibbling on bushes and grasses when the trio go out for their daily walks.

– exploring new tastes and smells

17th June 2016 – Our Osita is not well

The journey with Osita has not been all plain sailing. He developed what we believe was a an ulcer. He took to eating sand to give him some comfort. A battle with High fevers continues. Osita is under constant surveillance to try and stop him from eating sand. It is imperative that he starts eating more grass.

6th July 2016 – Grazing on his own.

Osita has turned the corner! Carers at Aquila.


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