The Wild Rhino Orphanage

Founded by Petronel Nieuwoudt in 2001, Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary’s mission is “to rescue every rhino that is orphaned, to heal them and to provide a totally secure environment where they can grow, roam free, and breed to ensure that there will always be rhinos in Africa.”  Based in Mpumalanga, rhinos are poached at extremely high rates (averaging 2 a day in 2018) and whilst reductions in the number killed per year have been seen, these have been alongside increases in poaching incidents in less protected areas.

Each of the five remaining Rhino Species are heading for extinction.  The Javan rhino is Critically Endangered with only 69 remaining; the Sumatran Rhino too carries a Critically Endangered Classification with less than 100 remaining, as does the Black Rhino with a population in the region of 5,000.  Due to increased and concerted conservation in both India and Nepal, the Greater one Horned or Indian Rhino has seen populations rise from just 200 to 3,500.  The Southern White Rhino recovered from a near extinction population of 50–100 in the early 1900’s to a population of over 17,000.

769 South African Rhinos were poached 2018 –259 less than the 1028 killed in 2017 but still 2 killed each and every day.  On the surface encouraging, however whilst anti-poaching activities may account for the reduction, this could also be a result of it simply being harder for poachers to find them.  2017 also saw increased poaching activity in less defended areas, we are potentially in danger of organised poaching teams relocating.

Care for Wild’s 3 principles – Rescue, Rehabilitate, Release – support the survival of existing rhino populations by providing the highest level of protection, ensuring the safety and security of the rhinos under their care and the continuation of thriving populations in South Africa for future generations.

Security measures include 24/7 monitoring, highly trained armed game scouts, mobile response units, communications network, crime intelligence, intense surveillance and live video monitoring, trained counter poaching dogs and their respective handlers, watchtowers, electrified fencing, and aerial support.

Care for Wild are active in the media pushing the message of the plight of Rhinos in Africa, featuring in National Geographic “Save this Rhino” and appearing in “Breaking their Silence: Women on the Frontline of the Poaching War”, screened at the Newport Beach Film Festival earlier this year.  Regular visitor and Ambassador includes cricket player Kevin Pietersen who is “sick and tired of flying into the African bushveld and seeing dead rhinos,” and has a series of podcasts “Beast of Man” and has set up his own charity in response, SORAI (Save our Rhino’s in Africa and India) to rescue and rehabilitate abandoned or injured rhinos, beginning the message to a different group within society.

Arthur the Brave – Sponsorhip  In July 2018, Cumbria Zoo Company Committed to the Sponsorship of Arthur the Brave, orphaned rhino calf of Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary.


Here is Arthur’s Story;

In the early hours of Sunday 20th May a gunshot was heard in the Skukuza section of the Kruger National Park, leading to the discovery of an injured White Rhino calf clinging to the slaughtered body of his White Rhino mum. Poachers had brutally hacked off both of Mum’s horns and, as the calf’s instinct to protect her and stay as close as possible kicked in, had lashed out with their machetes, seriously injuring the calf’s back and his right foot. Rhino calves are born without a horn so he wasn’t of interest to the poachers.

Veterinarian Peter Buss stabilised the calf before he was transported to Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary who were poised to receive the calf.  This brave little fighter was hydrated on arrival, he had drunk from his mother that morning prior to her being killed. He weighed just 80 kilograms – a White Rhino at birth weighs between 40-60 Kilograms, he was not very old at all.

His wounds included a cut to the toe nail, splitting the nail down to the nail bed, and a 4-inch machete gash to his back, slicing through his cartilage, dangerously close to his spine. His wounds were cleaned and bandaged and his deep back wound stitched up.

This brave little Rhino was given the regal name Arthur, meaning noble and courageous, and fitting for his fighting survivors spirit.  Arthur is on the road to recovery, he has made friends at the sanctuary with fellow Rhino orphan Summer, Looney – trainee puppy with the K9 Unit – and is a firm favourite with his care givers.

In the wild a Rhino calf will stay with his mum for 3 years, learning how to be a Rhino and how to interact with fellow Rhinos. Arthur’s mother was snatched from him at an early age, Arthur still calls out for his Mum, a sound that breaks the heart of his human caregivers.  Arthur will be emotionally scarred for a long time – long after his physical wounds have healed. He has a long road to full recovery ahead but with your support and help he, and other orphans like him, will get there!

How have we spread the word Arthur (and his fellow Rhino’s) Plight? 

  • The announcement of our Sponsorship of Arthur and his heart-breaking story of bravery and rescue was picked up by National and International press outlets, conservation operations and organisations (samples included).
  • We have endeavoured to provide updates on Arthur via our Social Media outlets, currently Facebook and Instagram.
  • Arthur’s story is displayed next to the Africa field, accompanied by wider Rhino conservation/status information.
  • Our Poaching camp is opposite the Africa field, just passed the children’s playground.
  • “Saving the Chubby Unicorns” keeper talk has been added to the talks programme and is now a permanent feature
  • Member of keeping team has visited the sanctuary towards the end of 2018

How will we further enforce the message in the future?

  • The interior of the Africa House is scheduled for a revamp this summer, ready for the winter season. This will centre around conservation messages, statistics and how people can get involved.
  • We plan to launch outreach Arthur’s Workshops for schools – as with all our education these will be free of charge.
  • The webpage dedicated to Care for Wild and Arthur is currently in development
  • Dedicated events such as World Rhino Day, Endangered Species Day
  • Continue with sharing of updates from Care for Wild, Status updates of the rhino and reinforcing of the message on Safari Zoo Rhino birthdays etc
  • We plan to send further representatives to experience the work of Care for Wild firsthand


Financial Commitment: Our financial goal for Arthur is £1600 a month.  This funds not only the monthly costs to support a growing rhino (estimated £1100), but also supports the cost of maintaining a horse for a mounted ranger patrol each month and a canine member of the dog patrol team.  Arthur’s Army has been established as a fundraising arm.

A £1 Donation buys 2 teats to help feed the hand-reared orphans
A £5 Donation provides an orphaned Rhino with Lucerne to eat for one month
A £14 Donation funds the fuel to heat the Rhino houses at night for one month