Abandoned Southern White Rhino Calf on Ol Pejeta

Ol Pejeta rangers rescue a baby rhino in need of dire medical attention

A two-week-old southern white rhino calf has been rescued by the Ol Pejeta wildlife and veterinary teams, after being abandoned by his mother.


When northern white rhino patrol rangers found the limp body of a tiny rhino calf, they feared the worst. As they got closer, they found that the baby was alive, but unable to stand. His sickness had caused his mother to abandon him, a common occurrence with many wild mammal mothers. At just two weeks old, he is heavily dependent on her milk and protection – and didn’t stand a chance alone in the wilderness. The rangers called in the veterinary team, who found the little rhino to be severely dehydrated, with an abnormal body temperature.


He was taken into captivity for emergency care and further inspection. The rhino was given oral rehydration, followed by rhino calf milk formula, but the team had no idea what to expect. Their prayers were answered just two hours later, when, fuelled by hydration fluids and milk, the calf was walking and jumping about his pen energetically.

IMG_0067 1

The vet team found that the rhino has ‘persistent urachus’. This is the failure of the rhino equivalent of a belly button to close up after birth, and leads to urinary problems. There are three options with this condition:

  • Leave it to heal alone
  • Conventional medical treatment to close it by chemical cauterization or
  • Surgery

IMG_0094 1

Desperate to avoid potentially dangerous surgery, our vet team decided to see if the little rhino could heal by himself. With close monitoring, regular feeding and hydration, the team were thrilled when, after several worrying days, the rhino finally passed stool successfully. This is a sign that his organs are working properly, and the naval opening has now regressed fully. Our vets will continue to monitor him and administer further treatment but it is now safe to say that the baby is out of danger.

We are hopeful that he will continue to go from strength to strength, and when he is old enough, the rhino will be reintroduced back into Ol Pejeta to be wild once more. As such, his human contact is being restricted to just two caregivers.

We never like having to take an orphaned wild animal into our care, although when you look at his face, it’s hard not to smile!

This little guy will need all the support he can get – donate now to help our team get him better! If you want to name him (and when else do you get the chance to name a rhino!?), get in touch with our marketing department for more details!