THE RHINO ORPHANAGE, South Africa (Reuters) – Looking after an orphaned baby rhino is hard work: you feed them bottled milk at all hours, comfort them through constant fear and bereavement and endure long nights of screaming for the absent mother they witnessed being shot dead by poachers.
“The older calves take it really hard. They’ll call for their mothers for up to two weeks,” said Yolande van der Merwe, 38, who helped set up the world’s first such orphanage in South Africa’s Limpopo province almost a decade ago.
“They start bawling and that hits you right in the heart.”
To help manage the workload – “we can easily pull a 72 hour shift with two to three hours sleep”, van der Merwe said – the orphanage has depended on volunteers to fly in from abroad on three-month rotations at the site set amongst thick bush.
So when coronavirus panic struck and the latest three foreign volunteers’ visas were revoked, they were in a bind.
“I was quite worried that we were…
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