Rhino Who Survived Brutal Poaching Attack Welcomes a Baby

Thandi, a rhino in South Africa who survived a vicious poaching attack three years ago, has not only beat the odds stacked against her survival, but has just given more cause for celebration with the birth of a healthy baby.

In 2012, Thandi and two other males were attacked by poachers who took their horns and left them for dead. Sadly the two males died, but Thandi, who was found in a pool of her own blood, miraculously survived.

She’s faced a long road to recovery and has undergone multiple surgeries and procedures, including a skin graft, since the attack to help heal her face and keep it from becoming infected. Despite the heartbreak of the suffering she endured, her story is also one of resilience. She has offered hope to those who continue to fight to protect this species and has garnered attention from the likes of NBA star Yao Ming who has spoken out on behalf of both elephants and rhinos.

Now, she’s brought even more hope with the birth of a calf. At the end of 2013, a blood test confirmed she was pregnant and left her caretakers anxiously waiting for the calf’s arrival, who was expected in December.

Two rangers from South Africa’s Kariega Game Reserve where Thandi lives were the first to see the little one this week, and her caretakers, who have been observing from a distance, report that she and the newcomer both look healthy.

“I am sure that the whole rhino caring community will share in the joy of this amazing birth. Thandi’s story has always been an incredible testimony of the will to survive against all odds. She represents so much of what her species faces under the current poaching crisis. Her survival has already given us inspiration but the birth of her calf brings a new dimension of hope to the crisis showing us that a future generation of life is possible if we put our minds and hearts to it,” said Dr. William Fowlds, a wildlife veterinarian who has provided much of Thandi’s care.

Wildlife photographer and filmmaker Adrian Steirn was able to capture Thandi and her calf following the birth. Steirn called it a once in a life time experience, stating, “To see her with a beautiful, healthy calf is truly a privilege and should inspire optimism and renewed commitment to protect these incredible creatures.”

South Africa is home to the world’s largest rhino population, but the demand for their horns continues to drive the slaughter, and poaching continues to pose a serious threat to their future survival.

In a statement, the reserve noted numbers from the South African Department of Environmental Affairs that show a dramatic increase in the number of rhinos being poached over the past few years. Last year alone, 1,116 rhinos were killed, while a five-year estimate counted 3,569 killed by poachers. All of the five remaining species are listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, while three of them are listed as critically endangered, leaving the conservation community worried that if poaching continues at its current rate, extinction is a real possibility in the near future.

For now the reserve says it is doing everything in its power to ensure the safety of its rhino residents and has closed the area where Thandi and her baby are in an effort to ensure they are left undisturbed. Hopefully, their efforts will pay off and this little baby rhino will thrive and bring a renewed strength to efforts in the battle against poaching and wildlife trafficking.

Photo credit: Adrian Steirn/Kariega Game Reserve


Magdalena J.
Past Member 3 years ago

Thank you!

Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the article.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Mark Donners
Mark Donner4 years ago

Elsa V. Actually what you are proposing has the opposite effect. Legalizing trade in rhino horn INCREASES the demand for it from the same criminals who you want to legalize it for. Just expose and kill the people who are demanding it. Maximum force is the only answer. And rhino horn confiscated from poachers? That is insanity.

Nena C.
Nena C4 years ago

So delightful news

Joan E.
Joan E4 years ago

Rhino horns are made of the same substance, I have read, as our own fingernails. There is nothing magic or special about it. Leave them alone.

Joan E.
Joan E4 years ago

Congratulations, Mama.

Past Member 4 years ago

Cool story.

Teresa W.
Teresa W4 years ago

wonderful news

William Moorman
William Moorman4 years ago

Thank you