Thandi and Family – New Baby Rhino at Kariega!

Thandi and Family – New Baby Rhino at Kariega!

Posted by Georgia Wilson on 7th Jan 2021

Whilst things still feel uncertain in today’s world, we are all holding out hope for what the New Year will bring us. Fortunately, the Kariega ‘Big 5’ Conservation Project has shared with us some heart-warming news to start 2021 with a reason to celebrate. On January 4th, the field guides set about their daily work and had an exciting surprise along the way, they spotted Thandi (a female white rhino with an incredible history) grazing with a tiny calf in her shadow - Thandi had given birth to a baby boy!

Thandi and New Male Calf

Every new-born calf is celebrated as a conservational success, especially as rhinos have faced many hardships that once saw the species on the verge of extinction. Most notably, the poaching of rhino horns has been and continues to be, a huge threat to these animals. Thandi’s story is one that examples the plight of the species as she famously is the first-ever rhino to have survived a poaching attack. In 2012, poachers invaded the reserve and darted 3 rhinos with tranquillisers before hacking off their horns with machetes. They were left to bleed out as the tranquilisers wore off and sadly, one of the bulls died there that night. Thandi and Themba (another bull) were found in critical condition and began intensive treatment led by veterinarian Dr Fowlds. Unfortunately, Themba has sustained an injury to his leg during the attack from which he didn’t recover, a short three weeks later he passed away.

Thandi and Siya

Thandi’s recovery was a long process that even involved pioneering skin grafts to her face. Her story hit headlines around the world and inspired many to contribute their efforts towards rhino conservation. Thousands of pounds were raised for the protection of the species, as well as her treatments. It was during her skin grafts in 2013 that a blood test revealed that Thandi was pregnant with her first calf. After a gestation period of 16 months, she gave birth to a female calf named Thembi in January 2015. Since then, Thandi has given birth to 4 healthy calves including this new addition! The team have called him Siya, named after Springbok rugby captain Siya Kolisi, who was also born in the Eastern Cape region.

Mother and New Baby at Kariega

After a horrific ordeal, Thandi’s strength and resilience have been an inspiration and a reminder that no matter the situation we are in, there is always hope for a better tomorrow. She is continuing to grow not only her own ‘family’ but the rhino population as a whole. For now, Thandi is keeping little Siya close and the team are monitoring them carefully. We look forward to bringing you updates on the mother and son duo!


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