Baby rhinos need blankets too: the quilts help regulate body temperatures, keep wounds clean and provide comfort.
Covering an orphaned baby rhino with a hand-knitted quilt might seem like a silly notion at first, but the act of doing so is actually extremely beneficial for the land mammal. This is because after witnessing their mothers get killed by poachers and (in some cases) being injured in the process, rhinos need just as much love and tender care as other creatures. And, the blankets help regulate the rhinos’ body temperatures, keep wounds clean and provide comfort. Fortunately for young rhinos at Rhino Revolution, an orphanage in South Africa, a new shipment of hand-knitted quilts was delivered this week.
According to The Dodo, volunteers with the group Blankets for Baby Rhinos created the quilts with five special rhino orphans in mind: Ringo, Ubuntu, Masingita, Chipoko, and Nkonzo. The volunteers live approximately five hours away from Limpopo and Pretoria in South Africa, which is why one of the members, Angie Goody, delivered the quilts to the orphanage. Veterinary nurse Natalie Rogers who works at the rhino orphanage recalled:
“The babies were very interested in these blankets. The new material was something new to them, and they had a huge interest in the new smells and gave them a good sniff.”
Even though they may have liked the blankets, the quilts were actually saved to help smaller rhinos who will be admitted in the future.
“The blankets we received will be used for future neonate calves that are admitted,” Rogers said. “It was an absolute delight to receive the blankets and you can rest assured they will be put to very good use with future neonate calves and carers sleeping with these young babies, bringing comfort to both. The love and attention that has gone into each and every blanket we have received is clear to see.”
Explaining that the blankets will help provide comfort for the rhinos who have endured intense trauma, Rogers stated:
“The babies who will be wrapped in these blankets are likely to have been through the worst possible trauma after losing their mothers. In the war against poaching, kind gestures such as these are vital in supporting the rehabbers on the ground.”
Even under a year old, the rhinos are vulnerable to poachers. Earlier this month, Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage was broken into by armed men and two baby rhinos were killed for their horns. To prevent a similar travesty, the young mammals at Rhino Revolution have been dehorned.
“We dehorned all our rhinos at the facility as one of many security measures,” said the veterinary nurse. “We would normally wait till our calves are weaned off milk, but with recent escalations with poachers targeting hand-reared calves, we made the decision to dehorn Nkonzo at 11 months.”
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