(SKY NEWS) – A rhino calf is recovering after being attacked with machetes after poachers shot his mother and stole her horns.
Field rangers in South Africa’s Kruger National Park located the mother and baby after hearing shots in the middle of the night.
They sent out a helicopter and quickly found the dead white rhino cow, with both her horns removed.
Lying next to her was her calf who had a large gash on his back close to his spine. It had been caused by a machete.
The poachers had also slashed at his right front foot, splitting his nail to the nailbed.
A vet stabilised the calf before he was airlifted to the nearby Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary, the world’s largest rhino sanctuary and orphanage.
The Care for Wild team were told only 10 minutes before and when he arrived the sanctuary’s founder, Petronel Nieuwouldt, urgently called a plastic surgeon to stitch up his deep back wound.
The team said: “It was instinctive for him to try and stay close to his mother to protect her, and the poachers with no sympathy or hesitation whatsoever lashed out at him so that they could finish their heinous crime of taking his mother’s horn as quickly as possible.”
The incident happened on 20 May but Care for Wild has just told his story as the baby rhino is now stronger and rehabilitating well in the sanctuary.
They have named him Arthur as it is a “regal and brave” name and “suits his determination and spirit to survive”, they added.
“He still calls for his mother, it is a heart-wrenching sound and one that he should never have to make,” the team said.
“Her death will affect him emotionally long after his physical wounds have healed.
“A rhino calf stays with his mother for up to three years and in that time, she teaches him everything he needs to know, from what to eat and how to keep himself safe.
“She will teach him how to behave when in the company of other rhino and he will learn everything necessary from her so that he has a good chance of growing into a strong adult.
“Who is going to teach him now?”