An abandoned baby rhino is now thriving after being rescued at a wildlife conservancy.
Five-month-old Ringo – named after Beatles drummer Ringo Starr – was rejected by his mother and found collapsed when nearly 2 weeks old, by staff at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.
The southern white rhino was born in October to first-time mum, Curra, but after she failed to feed him, staff at the conservancy came to the rescue.
Ringo, who was severely dehydrated, also had a medical condition and was underweight, but he was nursed back to health by a specialist team.
Now boisterous, Ringo enjoys nothing more than a gum boot massage, a stroll through the park and tucking into oats and milk.
Camilla Le May, a British sculptor, was on the Ol Pejeta Conservancy sculpting Sudan, the last male northern white rhino in existence, and was fortunate to see Ringo during his first days with his mother and to spend some time with him after his rescue.
‘Ringo is now a strong boy and is happy and thriving. His every need is being catered for, around the clock by a small team of dedicated and knowledgeable keepers and is a delight to be around,’ says Camilla.
Ringo enjoys a diet of lactogen, porridge oats, glucose and salts, and requires feeding five to six times a day.
He’s taken on daily runs to keep him fit and is also learning the art of mud wallowing – something he’s not too keen on at the moment.
Wallowing in mud is important for rhinos, keeping insects at bay, acting as a sunscreen and cooling them in the heat of the day.
Camilla says: ‘He has to be tricked by a milk bottle to get him to the mud, pushed in, then persuaded to wait in the wallow, while he is covered in mud by the keepers.
‘Having been hand-reared he often sucks on trouser legs looking for milk. He also loves gumboots or wellingtons as he fast discovered the rough soles are great for scratching his itchy skin on.’
It’s hoped that Ringo the rhino will be reintroduced to the wild in the next three to four years, as part of a plan to preserve these threatened species from extinction.
In 2015 nearly 1,200 rhinos were killed by poachers in South Africa alone. Rhinos are heavily poached for their horns, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine and as a status symbol and are worth more per kilo than gold.
Rhino horn is composed of the protein keratin, which is the same component found in human fingernails, hair and in animal hooves and there is no proof of any medicinal benefit.
Camilla Le May specialises in animal sculptures and has combined her passion for art with her love of rhinos and wildlife conservation.
Camilla hopes that her video footage of cute Ringo will show the world what wonderful animals they are and why they need protecting and to build awareness of their plight and to discourage use of their horn in the east.
‘I hope my footage shows people what delightful and fascinating animals rhinos are and if it reaches eyes in the east, to encourage consumers to stop fuelling the cruel and devastating killing of these precious creatures for a fake medicine, which has no proven health benefits and is driving the various rhino species worldwide to extinction at present rates of slaughter.’
Camilla continues: ‘To drive a species to extinction for pure human greed is reprehensible and all for a fake belief. It is too late for the western black rhino which was killed out of existence in 2011 and the northern white rhino is at the brink of extinction now with only three left in the world.’