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November is Unusual Friendship Month
November is all about unusual, but heart-warming animal friendships that sometimes occur in unusual circumstances in Africa. Sadly mother animals sometimes abandon their young or are poached leaving their children behind to fend for themselves.
With a bit of luck the orphan will be found by an animal rescue organisation and taken in. Many baby elephants, rhinos or other animals thus grow up in completely different circumstances than in the wild and as a result the most unusual friendships can occur. Baby elephants make friends with baby giraffes, baby rhinos with goats and so on and so on …
Here are some heart-warming stories about such friendships and the rescue organisations and parks who are doing such a great job to take care of Africa’s animals.
Do you remember the story we recently shared about J’aime, the baby rhino which has suffered a traumatic encounter with poachers? Having been wounded while trying to protect her mom with her tiny body, the 4-week-old rhino girl has fortunately managed to stay alive, though remaining an orphan.
Nandi, the baby rhino, was found all alone only 2 months after she was born. Poachers having killed her mom, the tough little rhino girl somehow managed to survive on her own. But the question is for how much longer Nandi would be around had she not been found by the caretaker Jamie Taylor. Rescuers have taken her to the Rhino Orphanage where she was fed and soon after introduced to Mewie the cat.
A baby rhino entered the world in the early hours of New Year’s Eve 2015 and was immediately faced by rejection. Having been abandoned by his mother, the dehydrated baby was in desperate need of nourishment. Osita was weighing only 65 kilograms and his life was literary in the hands of animal welfare staff at Aquila Private Game Reserve.
Humans can really learn a lot from their animal companions. While we often struggle to overcome our differences, numerous stories testify to animals befriending each other despite belonging to different species and having completely different physical appearance and habits.
Themba was only six months when his mother fell off a cliff and died. The little orphan was in danger of starving to death before being rescued by the team from Shamwari Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.
At the Centre, baby elephant got to meet his first animal friend, though not of the same species. While Themba was clearly super-happy to meet sheep Albert, their first encounter almost gave the sheep a heart attack. But it didn’t take long for them to bond and become inseparable.
Baby hippo Owen lost his family when a tsunami hit the beach, leaving him stranded on the reef. He was rescued by local people who named him Owen, after one of the rescuers. Haller Park in Mombasa became his new home and, while lovingly looked after by a team of caretakers, little hippo felt confused and lonely.
The sight of dehorned rhinos is unfortunately not uncommon in South Africa, especially since the rhino-poaching wave in 2008 has put the survival of the species at risk. Many baby rhinos are left orphaned in this way, as was three-month-old Gertjie, found at the side of his mother killed by the poachers for her horns.
Salati was rescued as an orphaned leopard cub and donated to the Glen Afric Country Lodge near Pretoria, a family-run retreat which helps injured and abandoned animals. When she met Tommy, the family dog, ten-month old Salati was still a tiny kitten. They quickly became friends who explored the countryside together and Tommy playfully chasing Salati was the usual sight.
Care for Wild Sanctuary in Mpumalanga is home to an unusual site: cheeky goats playing around massive rhinos and using their bodies as an adrenalin park fixtures or as a stepping stone to otherwise hard to reach branches.
Ellie, a baby elephant, has had it rough from the start. She was rejected by her herd and left alone in poor health and milk-intolerant. When found, Ellie was taken to Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage in South Africa, though her rescuers had little hope she would survive.