A tiny white rhino calf, born to two orphaned rhinoceroses, turned one week old this week, a much-needed milestone for a species in constant danger of extinction.
Named for the journeys her mother Wyntir and father Storm have taken, Blizzy has officially had her first mud puddle and is growing well.
Born on February 13, she is the world’s first rhinoceros calf conceived naturally by orphaned parents as a result of poaching.
The Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary team can’t get enough of little Blizzy, who’s under the constant, watchful eye of ranger Nkosinathi and the rhino monitor team.
When the rescue center team first saw Blizzy, it was an emotional moment for CEO Petronel Nieuwoudt, who together with the team runs the largest orphaned rhinoceros sanctuary in the world.
Wyntir and Storm
Wyntir was found when she was two months old and weighed 107 kg when her mother was killed by poachers. She was rescued from Kingfisherspruit in the Kruger National Park.
She was left alone and attacked by predators and her ears were ripped off by hyenas.
Storm was orphaned in the Limpopo area when he was four weeks old. Poachers killed his entire family and left him to die more than 10 years ago.
Wyntir and Storm were brought to Care for Wild as part of more than 100 orphaned rhinoceroses rescued since the conservation project began in 2011.
They underwent extensive rehabilitation before being rewarded and released. When Rhinos are released from Care for Wild, they are protected 24/7 by guards, an elite K9, and a mounted unit.
“I watch both Wyntir and Storm and in one moment I see their entire journey. Every second of struggle, every hour of effort, every sacrifice and every person who gave everything to save them.
“Care for Wild’s vision is to secure the future of the species through viable breeding populations of black and white rhinoceroses that are protected by communities.
“This baby symbolizes the life and the light that is possible. She is hope for the species and for humanity.
Rhinos are of the world and it is our responsibility to save them, says Nieuwoudt.
Rhino population is declining
Nieuwoudt warned that rhinoceroses could become extinct in the next ten years.
Since 2011, the number of white rhinoceroses in the Kruger Park has decreased by 75%.
Despite a reported decrease in rhino poaching in 2021, compared to the pre-Covid period in 2019, the Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE) noted an increase in poaching from private reserves in their latest statistics.
Last year, a total of 451 rhinoceroses were poached in South Africa – 327 on government reserves and 124 on private property.
A total of 209 rhinoceroses were poached in Kruger National Park, the only national park affected by the syndicate.
The DFFE noted a 24% decrease in poaching on government reserves, but expressed concern that private reserves, particularly in Limpopo and Mpumalanga, were being hit by “easy prey”.
This was one of the “unintended consequences” of the increasing anti-poaching activities in the Kruger Park, the department said, leading to more arrests and convictions.