Spirit’s Story: Special News

In the early hours of September 3rd, 2023, an unexpected miracle arrived. Spirit gave birth to her first calf. This incredible moment marked a joyous and very important step in Spirit’s journey. Spirit has undergone a complex rehabilitation process, with the team fighting for her life every day. From the tiny, terrified orphan who lost her own mother to poachers, she has transformed into a strong and fiercely protective mother herself. We are immensely proud of this very special girl so let’s take a moment to remind ourselves of just how far she has come.

On the 17th November 2016, a rhino calf was spotted alone in the northern region of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. Discovered by Edwin Pierce on Arathusa Farm near the border of the Kruger National Park (KNP), the baby was estimated to be around 7months old. It is believed that she was running alone in the bush for three days before she was discovered.

Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) Veterinarian, Dr Ferreira du Plessis, darted the calf. She ran towards a nearby waterhole and fell into the mud. Fortunately the ground team were close on hand to pull the baby to safety. She was very thin. With the severe drought, food had been scarce and it looked as though Spirit, as she would later be named, had virtually no fat reserves. She was placed on drips for the journey to Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary where Petronel was waiting to receive the new orphan.

Spirit took a little while to accept the bottle but as soon as she began to drink, staff knew that they had won her trust. Herblindfold and ear plugs were removed and she was introduced to fellow orphans, Zac, Jemu and Grey. Both Jemu and Greyalso arrived within the same week as Spirit.
Spirit certainly provided a lot of challenges for the team. She was not a strong baby and required a lot of round the clock monitoring and care. With recurring episodes of pneumonia, the team fought for her life every day.

The new crash of 4 soon moved to the bigger bomas and continued through their rehabilitation programme together. As time went on, Spirit grew a lot stronger and in April 2018, 5 month old Lilli became the fifth member of the crash. Lilli was a few years younger than her new friends but Spirit and the others welcomed her instantly. In January 2019, Spirit and her crash entered the rewilding and release programme together and on the 3rd September 2023, Spirit gave birth to her first calf.