Rhino orphanage to open in South Africa
South Africa is home to an abundance of rare and wonderful wildlife, including about three quarters of Africa's approximately 20,000 white rhinos and 4,800 critically endangered black rhinos.
But while this makes the country a popular destination for overland adventure holidays, it also attracts less desirable elements in the form of poachers.
Despite efforts by the government to step up security in South Africa's national parks, almost 300 rhinos have been poached across South Africa since the start of the year.
Now, a new project is hoping help increase rhino numbers by taking in orphaned baby rhinos that have lost their parents to poachers and return them to the wild.
Entabeni Safari Conservancy is South Africa's newest and largest rhino orphanage and, once it is fully operational in mid-September this year, the facility will
care for between 25-30 young rhinos that would otherwise have likely died, reports AFP.
"Sadly, in many instances there are calves that are orphaned as a result of the poaching and we were concerned that there was a need to address those to provide field response specialist care," said Karen Trendler, a conservationist at the orphanage.
"Now there's a specialised rhino orphanage that can take the calves and provide that care that they need."
Located in the savannas near the city of Mokopane, about 250 kilometres north of Pretoria, the orphanage aims to minimise human contact with the rhinos and slowly reintroduce them back to the wild.
"As they become older, we will release them into areas bigger and bigger and bigger, until they are about two-and-a-half to three years old, and then obviously they are released back into nature," the conservation manager Arrie van Deventer told AFP.
Through the programme, it is hoped that rhino numbers in South Africa will be given a significant boost.
"If they can go back into the wild, if they can breed, if they can successfully rear their own calves, then it's conservation," added Ms Trendler.