Rescue of Sera Rhino Calf

A black rhino calf, only the second to be born in Sera Rhino Sanctuary, has had to be rescued after his mother abandoned him

It is a story that beautifully summarises how far community-owned wildlife management has come in northern Kenya: A black rhino calf born in the first community-owned rhino sanctuary in east Africa has been rescued from abandonment, and taken to the first community-owned animal orphanage in Kenya.

The collaboration between Sera and Namunyak conservancies, the Kenya Wildlife Service and others saw the safe capture and transportation of the 3 day old calf to Reteti - where she is doing well. 

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Photo: Reteti instagram

Photo: Reteti instagram

During the night, on the 26th February, black rhino Sala gave birth to a healthy calf at the Sera Rhino Sanctuary. Sala (also known by her Samburu name 'Nairrenyu') is a 12-and-a-half year old female, who was moved to Sera Conservancy in 2015 from Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. She was part of a ground-breaking project to reintroduce black rhino to Samburu, once a stronghold for the now endangered species. A collaboration between the Northern Rangelands Trust, Kenya Wildlife Service, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and others saw Sera Rhino Sanctuary become the first community owned and operated black rhino sanctuary in East Africa, and one of only a handful on the continent. 

A dedicated team of rhino rangers patrol Sera, with a mandate to sight each of the 11 rhinos at least once every few days. They knew about Sala's delivery within a few hours of it happening. There were concerns about Sala's mothering ability - her first baby, born on Lewa, was abandoned by her within a few days, for no apparent reason. A monitoring team was detailed to keep watch over the young calf, in case the same should happen here.  

Hand-rearing a wild baby is always a last resort, and the monitoring team were really hoping it wouldn't come to that. Their fears were confirmed however, when Sala started drifting away from her calf for longer periods without coming back. After 48 hours without suckling, the team made the decision to call the NRT/Lewa vet, Dr. Mutinda, and his team to come to the rescue. At such a young age, the calf was vulnerable to dehydration and predation, and without rescue would have most certainly died. 

The calf was taken to the Reteti Elephant Orphanage in Namunyak, where he has been named 'Loijipu'. As Reteti's first rhino resident, Loijipu is receiving extra attention from his keepers. In an Instagram post, Reteti said "This is Loijipu, a black rhino who was very sadly abandoned by his mother at just 3 days old. He is getting a body rub from his keeper John, who has become a leading expert in hand rearing rhino. Loijipu couldn't be in better hands, and one day he will be heading back to Sera conservancy which is where his mother still lives!"

The aim is indeed to release Loijipu back into Sera Rhino Sanctuary when he is old enough, in the meantime, you can keep up with his progress by following Reteti or NRT.