Ugh. If you have a deep love for animals, then you know there's nothing worse than poachers. Poachers who hunt down beautiful wildlife for their "valuable" body parts then leave them, near death and vulnerable or worse … dead.
Elephants are poached for their ivory husks. Rhinos? Their horns. Why? Because — according to the African Wildlife Foundation — in Traditional Chinese Medicine, powdered rhino horn is believed to cure fever, cancer, drug overdose and impotency (although all of this has been proven false). Besides Chinese medicine, rhino horns are also used to create decorations and ceremonial daggers, and to prove holier-than-thou status — a symbol of wealth. Even though they're stolen off the body of an innocent animal. And purchased illegally. It is an utter disgrace to humanity, poachers cutting off their horns, and selling them on the black market.
Gertje, a baby rhino in South Africa whose mother was killed for her horn, is still traumatized after witnessing the death of the mother he loved so much. He wept for her. "It was a devastating sight, as the tiny animal would not leave her side, and was crying inconsolably for her," his rescuers from the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre wrote.
They saved Gertje and provided him with a surrogate mother, a sheep named Skaap. He spent his first night at the center with Skaap and curator Christo Schreiber. He is still afraid to sleep alone. Rescue workers have spent a great deal of time with Gertje, snuggling with him and keeping him company at night.
Although Gertje is recovering at Hoedspruit, poaching is still an ongoing problem in Africa. Two rhinos are killed per day for just a few kilograms of keratin (also found in our fingernails). The value of a rhino horn on the black-market is $15,000 more per kilogram than that of gold (gold is worth $50,000 per kilo and horns are worth $65,000 per kilo). At the rate poaching is going, rhinos will be extinct by 2025. Poor babies!
We wish Gertje the best of luck and thank the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Center for doing their best to save rhinos!