There are events so rare in the world that many of us will never even imagine the experience. Such an occurrence recently took hold over Divan Grobler’s life. He was traveling along a road in South Africa, where he works for the Aquila Animal Rescue Center. He chanced upon a newborn rhinoceros, malnourished and dying on the roadside. He knew the rhino couldn’t have been more than a few hours old, but the mother was no where in sight.
The baby was visibly shaken, the victim of an accidental abandonment. Grobler and the crew at the Aquila Center believe his mother mistook another baby rhino in the area for her own, neglecting her true son to the harshness of nature. He waited on that roadside with the baby rhino for hours in the hopes that his mother would discover her mistake and return, but he had no such luck.
Grobler took the rhino from the road and brought him to the Aquila Rescue Center, where he currently still resides. They will have to care for the infant a total of 18 months before they can release him back to the wild, but that time will fly by for Grobler. He cares for the rhino as if it were his own son, feeding him every two hours and giving him lots of attention and playtime. The happy little creature loves to charge at his surrogate father, not out of anger or fear, but out of love.
They often roll in the mud, run together, and even nuzzle close to one another. When the time comes to release the rhino the separation will be hard on Grobler, but he knows it’s for the good of the rhino and the good of the planet. The population of rhinos like his charge has been low for ages, and even though their numbers have seen a small resurgence in the recent years, they’re beginning to dip once again, thanks to local poachers. It will be vital that the gene pool receive this baby rhino back into its wake, or else the population could continue to dwindle.
He and the team at the Aquila Animal Rescue Center will slowly teach the young rhino everything he needs to know to survive in the wild. Over the next 18 months, the tike will be weened off of his formula diet and taught how to graze across the land, in order to provide for himself. As he grows, he’ll gain the ability to defend himself against predators, and soon there will be few natural enemies he’ll need to worry about. It is true that full grown rhinos don’t have any natural predators, but they are perhaps more susceptible than many others to the most dangerous predator of all: man. Rhinos are often sought by poachers for their horns. In order to help him have the best chance for survival, they’ll have to be sure he has the ability to protect himself. His playtime with Grobler stimulates the development of coordination and strength, so he’ll be as prepared as he can possibly be for what the world has in store for him.
Stories of friendship like these are a great reminder that all creatures on this Earth, human or animal, deserve to be here just as much as the rest. We are all co-exiting on the same tiny bit of habitable universe, and we need to remember how connected we all are. Grobler and the wonderful team at the Aquila Animal Rescue Center certainly understand the value of life, and hopefully their story and their spirit will spread to others. The world would do well with a few more individuals like him.