Less than 5,000 black rhinos are alive today and, due to increasing poaching activities, numbers are drastically declining. Mount Etjo Safari Lodge is based on Okonjati Game Reserve in Namibia and is home to many free-roaming black rhino and is the perfect home to ensure their survival.
At the lodge they are heavily protected by CCTV cameras, helicopter surveillance and armed guards on the ground. For this reason, the Namibian government has chosen Mount Etjo as one of its trusted custodians for these majestic species.
Annette Oelofse, who established Mount Etjo Safari Lodge with her late husband, is dedicated to ensure the survival of black rhino babies that have been entrusted in her care by the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism. Yandja – meaning ‘present’ – is the fourth rhino baby that has landed on her doorstep, his mother having died of unknown causes in the famous Etosha National Park.
At the beginning, he received 20 litres a day of non-fat long-life cow’s milk. This was fed to him every three hours from an empty plastic coke bottle, fitted with a rubber teat. Apart from Annette, two babysitters have the honourable task of spending time with him around-the-clock. Because of all the love he receives on a daily basis, Yandja has grown into a healthy rhino youngster, and he will be ready to join his peers in the wild in about a year.
About 18 years ago, Annette bottle raised her first black rhino. “Nossie” was only a few days old, severely dehydrated and given a minuscule chance of survival by the state vets who left her at Mount Etjo. Back then, Annette’s feeding strategy was based much on trial and error, and very careful observation of the baby rhino’s behaviour and response to different types of milk. Non-fat long life cow’s milk with a little glucose produced the best results. Later on, Annette fed her some traditional “millie-pap” (maize meal) and little by little, Nossie regained her strength.
Much to Nossie’s delight, a baby black rhino bull by the name of “Floppy” was put into Annette’s care a few months later, and the two rhinos became best of friends. Both Floppy and Nossie have been released back into the wild, Floppy having sired at least three calves, while Nossie has already given birth to seven. This is a miraculous success story – the survival of these two animals has already increased the black rhino population by 10 individuals – and more to come!
Although wild in every way, Annette is still able to approach Nossie when she occasionally sees her, even with her calves. Rhinos never forget.
You can support the survival of these rhinos at Mount Etjo, and check out our website for more information.