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We recently shared part one of an interview with Edyta Wozna, who is one of the caregivers of Don English, Rhino Africa’s adopted orphaned rhino. Don’s mother was killed by poachers in South Africa’s Kruger National Park in July 2015.
In the interview, Edyta sheds light on the process of an orphan rhino arriving from the wild into the Care for Wild sanctuary and shared some of what happened in the days and weeks following Don’s arrival at the sanctuary.
In part two of the interview series, we wanted to get to know Don a little better:
Given the circumstances behind the death of Don’s mother, is Don friendly to humans?
It’s so important to set out here that it is not our goal to get an orphaned rhino to be friendly to humans. Eventually all of our orphans at Care for Wild will be released onto a fully monitored, high security tract of land, so that they will be able to live a wild life. However, as the team, we need to be able to interact with the rhino so that we can feed and rehabilitate it. We don’t know if Don saw his mother being killed, but he was definitely wary of us at the beginning. But, as soon as he saw Warren, another one of our young orphaned rhinos, interacting with us, he immediately became more relaxed. The fact that Warren was not anxious made Don feel at ease.
Does Don get on well with his “room-mates” Warren and Oz?
Oh yes. You must know that he is the smallest, but he has the biggest attitude. He has never been scared and from the beginning he made it known that he would not be pushed around. The three of them are best mates – each with a very distinct personality.
Tell us more about Don’s personality.
I would say cheeky, clever and very loving … oh and he loves his bottle. At feeding time he is the first to arrive. He loves to cuddle. If you rub Don’s tummy he will immediately lie down, encouraging you to scratch for as long as you can. Although he is shorter than the other two, Don is quite stocky I would say, and his is the hairiest, which adds to his cuteness. He’s definitely the “baby”, so Warren and Oz teach him. For example, he was too lazy to start eating grass, but when he saw Oz doing it, he decided to try. Lastly, he loves his mud bath, but what rhino doesn’t!
Can you describe Don’s typical daily routine?
Yes, his first feed is in the early morning, just as the sun is coming up. He gets one and a half litres of milk and one liter of a medicinal mixture that soothes any problems in the gut. In total, he has six bottle feeds per day and he is now eating approximately one kilogram of solid food per day in the form of grasses. We also add dung from the other rhinos in the sanctuary into Don’s boma. It’s important for Don, Warren and Oz to eat this dung as it contains natural bacteria that is good for the gut.
We spend time stimulating all three rhinos, often by playing with them, but they are definitely getting to the stage where they are keeping themselves busy. Depending on how hot it is, the rhinos get one or two mud baths every day.
Edyta, what’s the hardest part of your job?
When an orphan rhino arrives at the sanctuary and you put everything you have into trying to get that individual through the first few days and then it doesn’t make it. There’s nothing as hard as that. But the reality is that you learn from it and hopefully you’ll have more experience for the next arrival.
For regular updates you can also follow Don’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Are you interested in adopting an orphaned rhino?
There are ten more rhinos at the Care for Wild sanctuary that need your help – they are looking to be adopted. The cost is $1100 per month, covering all maintenance costs relating to food, shelter and medication as well as state-of-the-art security. For more information, contact us here.
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