Heartbreak as Rescued Baby Rhino Passes Away in Pilanesberg

Pilanesberg National Park has made the heartbreaking announcement that an abandoned rhino calf they rescued has sadly passed away on Tuesday morning.

Behati Source: Pilanesberg National Park

The little rhino became a viral sensation after it was found by a ranger on Sunday, Mother’s Day in South Africa, and survived through the night. Pilanesberg supporters raised money and their hopes that the baby rhino would survive against all odds. It was even named Behati, which means ‘lucky’ in Swahili. But Pilanesberg cautioned that the baby was not out of the woods and that the first 48 hours would be critical.

Today Pilanesberg’s admin announced: “Sadly little Bahati passed away 20 minutes ago. I have no idea why he left us, but we are all shattered. So much love, but clearly inside he was too broken. 💔 Thank you all for the tremendous love and support for Bahati.”

Behati had been found abandoned by its mother for unknown reasons. A rhino cow was seen not far from the scene, with placenta still attached.


A rhino cow, with placenta attached, was spotted nearby

When Pilanesberg first spotted the baby rhino, it was standing in a dam, trying to stay out of reach of three hungry jackals. “The calf was tiny… His little head kept dipping. He was so, so tired.”

Pilanesberg’s Steve and Pooe (John) waded in and rescued him by hand, carrying the heavy little rhino to the cruiser. He was swathed in blankets to keep him warm until the vet – Dr Gerhardus Scheepers of Zodiac Vet – arrived. Apparently Behati was just a couple of days old. His umbilical cord was still attached.

Pilanesberg’s admin said on Sunday: “I experienced a motherly bond with this little soul. All the way to the scene i was feeling crushed that there was an orphan on what is Mother’s Day here by us! Devastating to imagine anytime, but worse symbolically, today.”

Interestingly, the rescuers took photos of his hooves which appeared waterlogged from the dam… but the vet explained these are ‘golden shoes’ (see below) or deciduous hoof capsules which are soft filaments surrounding the hoof to protect the mother’s uterus and birth canal. Apparently horses have the same thing.

‘Golden Shoes’

Reuniting the calf with its mom was never a possibility as, after abandoning him, she may have harmed him.

Pilanesberg said today: “We will never give up the fight no matter the odds. Thank you Dr Gerhardus and staff for doing all you could to give Bahati a chance at life. Rest in peace little angel 🦏❤️”

Photos credit: Dr Gerhardus Scheepers of Zodiac Vet