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The Story of Gertjie

27 May 2014

On the night of Wednesday, May 7, an all-too-familiar tragedy unfolded in the bushveld of Kapama Private Game Reserve. Under the cover of darkness, poachers swooped in and brutally mutilated a female rhino for her horn.

By the time rangers had been alerted and rushed to the scene, the poachers had made their escape and the rhino had succumbed to her injuries. Next to her body, refusing to leave her side, they found her three-month old calf, crying inconsolably.

Shocked and traumatised by the death of his mother, the baby rhino could not be calmed and the VET contacted Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC) for help. Staff at the Centre responded quickly, soon arriving to take the orphaned rhino to his new home and family at HESC.

Affectionately named “Gertjie” after the manager of the game reserve, the baby rhino spent his first night away from his mother under the watchful eye of experienced ranger Christo Schreiber and an ewe called “Skaap” – Gertjie’s self-appointed surrogate mother. 

Getting better

Gertjie is adapting well to life in the Centre and is slowly becoming more and more confident. He takes two long walks daily and absolutely loves his mud baths. And much like any child Gertjie is scared of sleeping alone at night. He spends sleep time snuggled up to a staff member and loves taking a snooze in one of their laps.

Feeding Gertjie, however, is proving to be a challenge for HESC. He needs to be fed every 3 hours. He already weighs over 110kg and drinks about 1,5 litres of “milk” – a mixture of fat-free milk powder (this has the right amount of nutrients), vitamins, glucose and hot water – 8 times a day. He gets really grumpy when he’s hungry.

Because Gertjie will need to be fed for the next 18 months, HESC approached Pick n Pay for help. We were only too happy to be a part of this amazing story and began gathering as much powdered milk as we could. Along with our partners at Clover Dairies, we were able to donate 300kg of fat-free milk powder to HESC.

How can you help?

Pick n Pay is appealing to Smart Shopper customers to donate their Smart Shopper points over the next two months to HESC. Points can be donated through the Smart Shopper kiosk in Pick n Pay stores or via the mobile app, and will be used to provide Gertjie with the milk he needs.

Pick n Pay Hypers will also have a trolley available for customers to drop off fat-free milk powder for Gertjie. 

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