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J'aime was with her mom when a group of poachers attacked looking to claim her parent's horns worth thousands of dollars. We don't know if the 4-week-old baby tried to charge the villains or place her tiny body between the two as a shield, but it's evident that she did her best to protect her mom. In the end, she didn't succeed, and was left not only orphaned but also with three stab wounds in her back.
J'aime, whose name means „I love“ in French, was found in the bush and picked up by staff belonging to The Rhino Orphanage (TRO) in South Africa's Limpopo Province. Luckily, tough little rhino was in stable condition so that the vets were able to treat her wounds, and even though the team was concerned about getting her to drink milk from a bottle, J'aime once again acted as a true survivor. In fact, once she's tasted the delicious milk, she couldn't get enough!
Now she knows when it's milk time and will whine to let her carers know she's ready to eat. If, in her opinion, they don't react fast enough, she'll try to suckle at her human companions. During the night, J'aime likes to cuddle up to her carers which is why they take turns sleeping next to the little rhino girl hungry for love and protection. As she's currently the smallest one in the orphanage, she's yet to be introduced to other orphans sharing her destiny.
The plan is to release J'aime back into the wild once she reaches 3 years of age, hopefully to lead a long and peaceful life away from the poachers. We keep our fingers crossed for this brave little thing who's well earned her right to reach old age healthy and content.
Founded by Arrie van Deventer in 2012, the Rhino Orphanage based in the Limpopo Province is the first specialist centre set up to care for orphaned and injured baby rhinos and, once fully recovered, release them back into the wild. The babies are fed milk substitute and supplementary food, encouraged to go on daily walks to get the necessary exercise, and engage in other types of natural behaviour such as playing and wallowing. As they are cared for with the goal to release them into the wilderness, contact with humans is restricted. Thumbs up for yet another team of heroes who unselfishly dedicate their lives to protecting South Africa's endangered wildlife.