The unlikely friendship that saved an orphaned rhino
Faith had to fend for herself when a bull killed her mother. The three-month-old white rhino was left all alone. Her chances of survival were poor. So veterinary nurse Megan Sinclair stepped in. With the species under threat, saving one rhino is critical for their future. Sinclair cared for and fed the animal at the Shamwari Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in the Eastern Cape. But Faith required more attention. “Because rhinos are herd animals, they need to have company,” Sinclair explains. Along came Jeremiah the sheep.
It’s a known practice for orphaned rhinos to be paired with sheep. With his gentle demeanor, Jeremiah was the perfect match for Faith. But because he could barely see through his oodles of wool, it created difficulties with his feisty companion. “In the beginning it was chaos,” Sinclair says. “I never found them fighting, but once I found wool on Faith’s horn.” It took a few weeks, but soon enough Faith became accustomed to her newfound company. Today, the duo are inseparable.
Southern white rhinos are near threatened, with around 20 000 remaining in the world. Thanks to the efforts of people like Sinclair, their population is increasing. “It is a real honour and privilege to take care of these babies,” she says. Every day, Faith and Jeremiah are at each other’s side, in sync as they munch on grass. “You can definitely see that they rely on one another,” Sinclair says. Although they appear to be a mismatched pair, their bond knows no bounds. “All animals deserve to be loved, especially when they are most vulnerable,” Sinclair says. Sometimes, support can be found in the unlikeliest places.