The Rhino orphanage programme

Between 2008 and 2020, a recorded 8 887 rhinos were poached in South Africa. The true number is likely much higher as many carcasses have not yet been found. This has led to an unprecedented situation of reserves often ending up with tiny traumatised rhino calves orphaned and that need help.

Rehabitate Wildlife Fund supports the two primary rhino orphanages in KwaZulu-Natal. One services the government reserves and the other the private reserves. Both orphanages take in orphans after poaching events. Both orphanages are in undisclosed locations due to security reasons.

The last 10 years has seen an unfathomable increase in rhino poaching which has led to orphaned calves. In some cases the poachers will badly injure the baby to stop it trying to protect its mother and bother them as they remove the horn. In other cases the calves are driven off and can be left wandering the reserve alone for many days before, if ever, they are found. They are also extremely vulnerable to lions and other large predators during this time.

These babies are usually deeply compromised and highly traumatised. They require specialised care and attention by trained professionals. A baby rhino needs milk every 2 hours, 24 hours a day so it is intensive work too. 


Once stabilized, the orphans are raised to be rhinos again and rewilded until they are able to be released back into protected areas. They need to be adjusted to local diseases and parasites (such as ticks), be able to feed themselves, protect themselves, and know how to socially be a rhino. This is groundbreaking work as conservationists have never had to face this before.

Remarkably, both orphanages have successfully released multiple rhinos, both black and white, into reserves where they have integrated into the population and are holding territories and socialising. 

Rehabitate supports both orphanages with food for the baby rhinos (specialised milk mixtures and supplements), grazing for the white rhinos, and browse for the black rhinos. We also help with equipment needs when possible.