An orphaned baby rhino was rescued after both his parents were killed by poachers in
The baby rhinoceros, nicknamed David by his rescuers, was found not far from the dead bodies of many of the endangered animals.
A team of conservationists were in the area to trim the horns of rhinos to deter poachers from killing them for their tusks, but the poachers got to them first and already slaughtered the huge beasts.
Several carcasses of recently killed rhinos were found, including a dead female, whose vulnerable orphaned calf was found nearby.
The Rhino 911 team – a rapid response helicopter unit that flies in to help wounded rhinos – loaded him into a truck and took him to safety.
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When the Rhino 911 team arrived in South Africa to trim rhino horns they discovered poachers had already killed many of the endangered species
Baby rhino David was found near his slaughtered mother by the rescue team and taken to safety at at orphanage
David was small enough to fit into the back of a Toyota Landcruiser, so he could be taken to a nearby vets and then to The Rhino Orphanage in Limpopo Province, South Africa
The orphaned animal was given medical attention by vets before being taken to a rhino orphanage in South Africa
He was small enough to fit into the back of a Toyota Landcruiser, so he could be taken to a nearby vets and taken to be looked after by The Rhino Orphanage in Limpopo Province, South Africa.
Rescuers named him ‘David’ in honour of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, which funds Rhino 911’s work.
In just a decade more than 7,000 African rhinos have been killed by poachers to feed the demand in Asian markets for rhino horn, which is wrongly thought to have ancient medicinal properties, the charity says.
From 2007 to 2014, South Africa saw a growth of over 9,000 per cent in rhino poaching.
Black market rhino horns is valued at around £2,330 ($3,000), meaning a whole horn could fetch poachers up to £15,000.
It is thought that if poaching continues at this level, the species could be hunted to extinction.
Georgina Lamb, who is charity founder David Shepherd’s granddaughter, was travelling with the Rhino 911 rapid response helicopter and said many of the team were in tears when David was found
Rhino calf David was found not far from the dead bodies of many of the endangered animals, including his mother
Georgina Lamb, who is David Shepherd’s granddaughter, was travelling with the Rhino 911 rapid response helicopter when the tragic death toll was discovered.
She was accompanied by her sister, the artist Emily Lamb and DSWF Wildlife Ranger Ambassador, Jacques Rudolph, who lives in South Africa.
Georgina, who is DSWF’s head of programmes and policy, described how many of the team were in tears when David was found.
She said: ‘This is possibly one of the most heart-breaking days I have ever experienced.
‘We’re so sad to have to share such horrible news with our supporters, but this really does show why our work is so important.
Rhino 911 is a rapid response helicopter unit, flying in to help wounded or orphaned rhinos with the aid of vets to treat the animals
The team found carcasses of dead rhinos around the area when they landed to trim their horns to deter poachers from hunting them
The dead body of a female rhino was found near her calf, David, before he was rescued in South Africa
Many of the rescue team were moved to tears by the sight of so many dead rhinos in South Africa
‘When the orphan rhino was named David as thanks for our support, we were all in tears.’
Rhino 911 is a rapid response helicopter unit, flying in to help wounded or orphaned rhinos with the aid of vets.
During their trip the team also successfully trimmed the horn from an adult rhino, reducing the risk of it being killed in the future by poachers.
Rhino 911 pilot and co-founder, Nico Jacobs, said: ‘If we hadn’t been here, this little baby rhino would have dehydrated and died.
‘This is the problem we’re facing in South Africa every week – it’s terribly sad that the people can’t unite to save these amazing animals.’
The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation funds projects across Africa and Asia that are working to save the rhino.