When a black rhinoceros mother lost her life and her horn to poachers, who butchered her in cold blood, a young calf was left behind, orphaned and heartbroken, crying over his mother’s body.
An African conservation organization called the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC), located in Limpopo, South Africa, took the poor, 3-month-old orphaned rhino under their wing in May, 2014. They named him Gertjie.
Assistant curator of the HESC, Karien Smit (pictured below), had to play the role of surrogate mother for Gertjie, who had been bereft of his mother’s love. He also needed to interact with other animals to keep him from becoming too tame. After a long search for an animal companion for the rhino calf, they eventually found a 3-week-old female pedi lamb named Lammie, and they were brought together.
Lammie was a little timid at first. Gertjie too was a little shy. But it wasn’t long before Lammie realized that beneath Gertjie’s thick skin lay a tender heart. Soon, they started playing “follow the leader” around the compound.
On the night of their first encounter, Lammie followed the baby calf into his room, where the two got to know each other better. They bonded joyfully.
Lammie follows Gertjie wherever he goes. They are inseparable. Though, if Gertjie gets a little too excited, Lammie is quick to give the rhino some extra space, and steer clear.
This sweet video taken by Smit shows the two getting along swimmingly, with the rhino seeming to hop like a lamb, having picked up a thing or two from Lammie, while the lamb is content to be Gertjie’s woolly sidekick. Together, they spend their days in the veld, in harmony, under the African sun. Hats off to this amazing pair!