Though the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi, Kenya generally caters to orphaned or abandoned elephants, they couldn't possibly say no to this two-day old rhino especially, once they saw how incredibly cute he is.
The black rhino was a mere two days old when he was found by ranger Maalim, during a routine patrol around Tsavo National Park. He was so tiny that Maalim first thought he was a baby Warthog. The ranger waited a day to see if the mother would come back, but by evening the baby looked so weak that Maalim picked him up and took him to the ranger base.
Not sure how to save the rapidly weakening baby, the ranger station called the experts at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and asked them to adopt the rhino calf. They instantly agreed. The ranger station also asked the shelter to name the baby, Maalim — in honor of the ranger who saved the little rhino’s life.
When the barely 8-inch, 55-lb calf reached the center, it was love at first sight for everybody who came in contact with him. Now about two months later, little Maalim is thriving at the center. Bottle-fed with specially formulated milk, he has two full-time keepers, who he dutifully follows around, almost afraid to be left alone.
However, he will not be introduced to any of the larger guests at the shelter. That is because in the wild, elephants and rhinos are not the best of friends and if Maalim gets too comfortable with their presence, he may not be able to survive in the wild.
In a few years, when this tiny calf becomes an 11-feet long, 5-foot tall adult weighing over 3,000 lbs, he will be released in the wild to the Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary, a fenced-in area for rhinos within the Tsavo National Park.
When Tsavo National Park was established in 1849, the population of black rhinos in Kenya, was as high as 20,000, with over 8,000 of them residing at the National Park. However, by the early 1990's, they had become almost extinct thanks to rampant poaching.
In 1980, the then warden of the park, Bill Woodley, closed off a 35-acre area, with an electrical fence to house and protect the few black rhinos that remained. Now, after all, these years, the rhino count has finally risen to over 70, but as can be seen from the disappearance of Maalim's mom they are still not entirely safe from poachers. To read more about Maalim and the other animals at the sanctuary go to sheldrickwildlifetrust.org.
Source: David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Dailymail.co.uk