Baby Rhino Found Lying by Dead Mom's Body After Being Attacked by Hyenas

A baby rhino in South Africa was attacked by hyenas after it laid down next to its dead mom's body.

The mom had been killed by poachers, the Care for Wild sanctuary—which rehabilitates rhino orphans—said in a statement. The hyenas had then attacked and bit off the calf's tail.

A South Africa National Parks (SANParks) helicopter spotted the calf just in time, before he starved to death or was attacked again. Veterinarians found he was only two months old.

The calf, was "terrified, alone and defenseless," the Care for Wild sanctuary said. SANParks Ranger Rob Thompson, veterinarian Lufunu Netshithavadulu and helicopter pilot Brad Grafton rescued the calf and brought him to the sanctuary.

Rachael Pfeiffer, from the Care for Wild told Newsweek that the calf remains in the Intensive Care Unit for his injuries, however, he is "progressing steadily."

Rhino calf
The rhino calf remains in the Intensive Care Unit at the Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary

"He is drinking milk regularly, every two hours through the day and night. Veterinarian Chris Smith attended yesterday to examine the tail injury," she said. "Fortunately, no further amputation was not required for this little calf ... the injury has been thoroughly cleaned, dressed and bandaged. He is on medication to manage pain and infection."

Care for Wild is home to many orphaned rhinos who were found in similar circumstances. The sanctuary is rapidly becoming the center of the rhino poaching crisis, it said on its website.

"Sadly we have seen a large number of orphans with similar injuries in the past," Pfeiffer told Newsweek. "A lot of our rhinos are missing pieces of their tails or their ears from hyena attacks after their moms are killed."

African rhinos are poached for the illegal trade of their horns. The trade has surged following an increased demand for the product in Vietnam. The horn is widely believed to hold healing properties, and is used in traditional Chinese medicine. However there is no scientific evidence to back this up. Horns are also bought purely as a symbol of wealth.

"Our new calf has yet to be named. When the orphans arrive they are normally extremely traumatized and afraid. They do not show their true personalities for a while. Only once they have settled are they given a name that reflects their true self," Pfeiffer said.

Since 2011, Kruger National Park has seen a 75 percent decline in southern white rhino populations. The population increased after conservation efforts however the species is still classed as near threatened.

In a Facebook post, the Care for Wild Sanctuary asked readers to keep the calf in their thoughts. "He has been through so much," the post said.

The sanctuary is also home to a well known rhino calf called Daisy, who was found with her umbilical cord still attached and without a mother. Daisy is currently being rehabilitated at the sanctuary. She has made friends with a zebra calf Modjadji, who also lives at the sanctuary.

Rhino calf
Luckily, no further amputation of his tail was needed. Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary