Home World Meet the sheep dubbed a 'professional babysitter' helping to save orphaned rhinos

Meet the sheep dubbed a 'professional babysitter' helping to save orphaned rhinos

A shorn sheep has become an unlikely companion to orphaned rhinos – and playing a key role in their successful rehabilitation.

Frank, described as a “professional rhino babysitter”, lives at Shamwari Private Game Reserve’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre (WRC).

Lisa Horn, the centre’s supervisor, said: “The little rhino unfortunately lost his mom at a few months old. She died of natural causes. She became terribly ill and within 24 hours, she unfortunately passed away.

“The next morning, when the owners drove through their reserve, they noticed this baby calf lying next to mom very unsure as to why she’s not moving.”

Poaching incidents have also left long-term trauma on calves who often witness their mother’s brutal murder for a horn.

Lisa said: “We have to try to indirectly work through them through their companion animals. They do the miracle work. They’re a professional friend. The babies who would have been 24 hours with mom get a friend in return. It’s not their mom but at least they’re not by themselves.

“Stress is the biggest factor in rehab. Wildlife is extremely sensitive to stress. They’re used to the wild, not being kept in cages alone.”

The unnamed rhino – who holds the record for the “laziest rhino” in their rehab’s history – sometimes does not even stand to eat.

The WRC’s main objective is to release all patients back into their natural habitats, the goal is to prevent patients from habituating to their caretakers, hence the use of farm animals.

Lisa said: “We cannot release habituated tame rhinos. It is a death sentence. We are fighting a war with poachers.”

After Frank fulfils his duties, he is taken back to the sheep farm where he originally came from and stays there until he is needed by the side of another rhino at the rehab centre.


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