NAIROBI, Kenya — A baby rhino that “survived against all odds” after being abandoned and attacked in the wild is now living her best life in a sanctuary. The little black rhino, Raha, was rescued in September 2022 after she was abandoned by her mother at just one week-old.
Ten months later, young Raha is now thriving and has become the favorite of many keepers at the reserve thanks to her adorable nature. Footage and images show Raha scampering around the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Nursery at Nairobi National Park in Kenya.
Frail Raha was spotted by wildlife scouts in a vulnerable position at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia, Kenya in 2022. She had been attacked by predators and was in a very poor state, with her tail completely chewed off, amongst other serious injuries to her rear.
Vets, with the agreement of the Kenya Wildlife Service and Ol Pejeta Conservancy, rescued Raha and took her to the nursery, where she received critical care from specialists.
“She was all alone with no other rhinos in the area. We will never know why she was abandoned at such a young age,” officials with Sheldrick Wildlife Trust say in a statement. “Perhaps her mother rejected her or perhaps she got into an altercation with another rhino and the calf was cast aside in the process.”
Raha’s trials and tribulations were not over despite the rescue, and she had a long road to recovery. Keepers tended to her injuries daily and she needed specialist veterinary care.
Raha has gone from strength to strength throughout her rehabilitation and maintained a positive spirit.
“Raha’s early days at the Nursery were a real struggle,” the Sheldrick Wild Life Trust team says. “Her tail had been bitten clean off and her rear end mutilated, chewing through to the tailbone and destroying her anus.”
“We hit a worrying stumble when she was unable to defecate for several days but veterinary intervention kicked her nether regions back into gear. While her body struggled to survive, Raha’s spirit never wavered. She came full of fight, charging around her stable and huffing and puffing at anyone in the vicinity.”
The keepers at Sheldrick Wildlife Trust managed to win her heart by giving her ear rubs and gentle scratches. It was essential that the keepers managed to gain the trust of Raha due to her precarious healing process.
“Initially, her excursions were limited to forays onto a large bed of hay spread across a stockade, which shielded her injuries from dirt and germs,” her keepers add. “After several weeks, however, she had healed enough to expand her patch to the nearby forest.”
Raha is now thriving, according to the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which hopes to successfully reintegrate her back into the wild in a protected area, when she is older. Kenya saw its population of black rhinos decline by 98 percent from 20,000 to 350 between 1970 and 1983. Luckily, conservation efforts for the critically endangered animal have seen their numbers rise to over 900 today.
“It is hard to imagine that one day, Raha will be a mother herself, living wild and bolstering the black rhino population in her own special way,” Sheldrick Wildlife Trust officials say.
“It will be many years until that day comes – and in the meantime, it is our honor to raise this special little girl. Raha truly is a bundle of joy. We are so proud to share her story of bravery and resilience.”
South West News Service writer Barney Riley contributed to this report.