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Surprise Birth: Rhino Thandi's Third Baby


Kariega Game Reserve is delighted to announce the surprise birth of a healthy baby rhino to poaching survivor Thandi. Kariega field guides first spotted the new male white rhino calf on Wednesday 3 April 2019. Thandi had separated from her two calves, Thembi (born in 2015) and Colin (born in 2017) and moved into the thick bush. When she emerged on Wednesday, she was followed by a tiny baby. 

Thandi and two male rhinos were discovered on 2 March 2012 after their horns were brutally removed with machetes and were left to die by poachers. The two males sadly died, whilst Thandi endured numerous operations for two years, including pioneering skin graft surgery under the care of wildlife veterinarian Dr William Fowlds. Her bravery was unbelievable and inspired us to name her Thandi, meaning courage and to be loved in isiXhosa. 

Thandi became the first rhino to ever survive a poaching attack. Her story spread around the world and has inspired many people to get involved in rhino conservation.

Wonderful Surprise Birth of Rhino Thandi's Third Baby

The birth of Thandi's first baby on 12 January 2015, just less than three years after the poaching, surprised and delighted the Kariega Game Reserve community and rhino supporters around the world. She was named Thembi which means hope in isiXhosa.

Wildlife photographer and filmmaker Adrian Steirn captured footage of Thandi and Thembi immediately following the birth. Steirn is the WWF Photographer-in-Residence for South Africa and has documented the fight against poaching across Africa for many years. This footage has been used to bring the brutality of rhino poaching into the living rooms of people across the world and stir action in ways that we could never have hoped for.

Thandi's second calf was born on 24 January 2017. This birth was particularly sentimental to the Rushmere family who had gathered together to celebrate the life of Colin Rushmere, visionary and founder of Kariega Game Reserve. Colin passed away on 20 January 2017. Thandi's male calf was named Colin as a joyful reminder of a special man and an inspired life.

Although there was speculation in late 2018 that Thandi could be pregnant again, the birth of her third calf has come as a wonderful surprise. Kariega Foundation patron and Kariega Game Reserve co-owner Graeme Rushmere comments: "We are delighted at the surprise birth of rhino Thandi’s third calf. This is a further reward for her courage and everyone’s wonderful efforts to protect her and her family."

Rhino Thandi's New Baby Named Justice

The new calf has been named Mthetho which means justice in isiXhosa. This name was chosen to commemorate the conviction and sentencing of three rhino poachers from the Ndlovu gang on Wednesday 3 April 2019. The trio were each sentenced to an effective 25 years in prison after being found guilty of 55 criminal counts involving the poaching of 13 rhinos in our Eastern Cape region between 2013 and 2016. The gang are suspected of poaching many more rhino, and it is possible that they could have attacked Thandi and the two male rhinos at Kariega in March 2012.

Justice has been done and we hope that this case will serve as a deterrent to other would-be poachers.

We hope the collective names of these rhino, love and courage (Thandi), hope (Thembi), victory of the people (Colin) and justice (Mthetho) is reminder that this incredible species are still in grave danger of becoming extinct and we must remain vigilant in our commitment to their protection and preservation.

Kariega Thandi.Third Calf Guide Jesse2

Adopt Rhino Thandi to Help Protect Her Lineage

We need your help to protect Thandi and her family. The Kariega Foundation, in collaboration with Kariega Game Reserve, invests a substantial amount of funds in various rhino protection and education programmes. This includes the operations of an extensive anti rhino-poaching unit (APU) on the reserve and comprehensive environmental education in local communities. It is a heavy burden to carry alone and we are immensely grateful to so many people who offer support through donations and fundraising initiatives.

We have partnered with Helping Rhinos, an innovative UK charity dedicated to saving the rhino, to provide a wonderful opportunity for you to help our efforts in protecting Thandi and her family and the rhino species at large. Please visit the Helping Rhino Adoption Centre to find out how you can adopt Thandi and little Mthetho in a few easy steps.

The first 50 adopters will be entered into a lucky draw and one rhino lover will win an all-inclusive two night stay for two people at Ukhozi Lodge. In addition the winner will enjoy a personal field guide dedicated to looking for Thandi and Mthetho in the wild.

We will continue to share updates about this wonderful rhino family via social media. Please connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Images in this article thanks to Kariega guide Jesse Fermor. The images were taken at the first sighting of Thandi's new little calf after its' birth.