When Liam Burrough encountered an orphaned rhinoceros calf while driving through Kruger National Park in South Africa, he didn’t wait for someone else to offer a helping hand. Burrough stopped to pour cool water on the dehydrated baby animal’s hot, dry skin and comfort it, inspiring other motorists to stop and do the same while they waited for park rangers to arrive.
According to The Dodo, poachers in South Africa killed roughly 736 rhinos for their horns in 2014. Those seeking the horns for ornamental or even folk medicinal purposes are willing to pay top dollar for the items through the black market.
A common result of poaching is the orphaning of calves such as the one Burrough and his fellow motorists saw that day. In addition to being dehydrated, the baby was wounded, weak, exhausted and scared, according to Burrough. Despite her recent misfortune, the calf appeared to trust the good Samaritans. Burrough noted that he recognized the irony of the calf relying on human beings for help at all tragic.
Park rangers took the rhino to Care for Wild Africa’s wildlife rehabilitation center to recuperate alongside other rhinos that had been orphaned by the actions of poachers. Caregivers there, who named her Shadow, said she was doing very well. Buzzfeed reports that Shadow, who was transported to the wildlife rehabilitation center by helicopter, is young enough that she might have a chance of being returned to the wild one day. The baby required resuscitation by veterinary emergency responders while en route to the rehabilitation center.
According to TODAY, following the incident, Burrough, who considers himself an advocate for wildlife in general, posted on his Facebook Timeline that the 8-week-old rhino calf collapsed in the shade of his car shortly after he stopped. He wrote, “Slumping onto her hindquarters and then onto her belly, she caught a few moments of peaceful rest in our shadow. She had undoubtedly lost her mother at this tender age to a poacher in this, one of the hardest hit areas by poaching in the Kruger. We sent another car to get help from a rangers station whilst we sat, giving the calf cooling showers with bottled water and more than anything, comfort and reassurance.”
Burrough later posted again on Facebook to report that staff at Care for Wild Africa had assured him that the rhino calf’s health was improving considerably. He added that he believes it is human beings’ responsibility to protect vulnerable animals from poachers catering to black market trade. Other Facebook users shared Burrough’s animal advocacy post more than 15,000 times, prompting him to thank them for the support and add that he was hopeful for the cause of animal protection.
Not long after Shadow’s ordeal, her mother’s body was found and her horns had been removed. Shortly after reports of the incident spread throughout the world, Kruger Park, which serves as the largest rhino reserve in Africa, announced it would install boom gates along three well-traveled tourist roads. The goal is to stop people from entering the newly created Intensive Protection Zone for rhinos after dusk. The plan included stationing rangers at the gates from sunset to sunrise every day. Park staff also said they would improve fencing on the reserve’s borders in an attempt to foil would-be poachers.
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