Two White rhino orphans have been released back into the wild, giving them a second chance at a normal life.
Makhosi, a four-year-old female, and Mpilo, a three-year-old male, have spent the first part of their life at a rhino orphanage in KwaZulu Natal.
Makhosi arrived at the orphanage in 2016 when the drought that swept over the country left her severely dehydrated and malnourished. Two years later, she was joined by Mpilo when his mother was brutally killed by poachers when he was only nine months old.
“Rehabilitating the two calves was not an easy task, as rhino are highly dependent on their mothers for the first few years of life, but the team at the orphanage are excited that we have finally reached the stage when we have to let them go back into the wild, where they belong. This is a proud moment for us, this is our mission, and this is what we strive for. Mpilo and Makhosi can finally go back in the wild and begin to contribute back to the wild White rhino populations in South Africa,” said Megan Lategaan, who leads the rehabilitation team at the orphanage.
The Somkhanda Community Game Reserve, co-managed by WILDLANDS, a programme of the WILDTRUST, prepared the young rhinos for release.
“In preparation for their release, the rhinos were dehorned and then habituated in a boma at Somkhanda for over a month. All human interaction and contact was completely stopped and their safety was closely monitored by wildlife rangers and the anti-poaching unit at the reserve to ensure that no harm came to them until they are ready to go back into the wild,” said Meiring Prinsloo, Reserve Manager at Somkhanda.
Click here to see the rhinos as they step back into the wild.