Tragic moment a starving baby rhino calf tries to suckle from its dead mother

This is the heartbreaking moment a calf was seen desperately trying to suckle milk from her dead mother after the older rhino’s horn had been hacked off by poachers.

The video, filmed at a national park in South Africa, shows the youngster trying to feed as its parent lies unresponsive in the eleventh rhino killing at the site in just four weeks.

From behind the camera, the voice of helicopter pilot Nico Jacobs is heard describing the scene before him.

‘What a tragic scene of a poached mother and her little baby heifer calf trying desperately to suckle milk, with no response from her mother,’ he says.

‘I can’t understand this it’s absolutely horrific to see, to see how it’s trying to suckle some milk.’

The tiny one-month-old rhino can be heard calling for its mother as it tries to nudge her head.

The rhino calf can be seen trying to suckle milk from the dead mother after poachers hacked her horn off

Rescuers think that just hours earlier that day the female had been and then had both her horns hacked off.

Despite the calf having no horn they are often shot too or paralysed by the killers because they disturb the process of getting the horn as they desperately cling to their mother.

At least in the case Lottie – as she has been dubbed – survived. More than one million people have now viewed the harrowing footage online.

Because of a now natural fear of humans Lottie had to be blindfolded and sedated, she was so small she was able to be bundled into the back of an SUV by Rhino 911.

The heartbreaking video shows the calf calling out for her mother, who lies dead after being attacked by poachers

The location of the attack has not been revealed for fear of encouraging more poachers.

Once on the black market rhino horn can make the poacher £10,000 a horn, with the values rising to hundreds of thousands for the final sold ‘product’, which often ends up in the Far East.

Mr Jacobs, from the charity Rhino 911, said: ‘We had a call from the head of some of the rhinos in this park who quite by coincidence spotted this calf walking alone and dehydrated.

‘She immediately alerted me and I was able to find the mum and see what was wrong, because it was not normal for a baby to be on their own. It’s completely abnormal.

‘When I got there, we found the mum shot dead in the ravine and with both her horns hacked off. Fortunately for us the baby had gone back to its mum and we were able to immediately alert the vet and to take it to safety.’

He said the baby was just a month old and that same night lions were already devouring the mother’s carcass.

The killing was the park’s eleventh in just four weeks and left the calf – nicknamed Lottie – crying out for her mother as she lay dead

‘We’ve lost now 11 rhinos in the last four weeks, in that specific park,’ he said. ‘It’s usually very difficult for them to be to poach in the middle of the park and then leave without us getting hold of them, so this is worrying.

‘I think they are hiding out in the mountains at night and then doing these killings early in the morning which is the time when that cow was shot.’

The calf is often shot or brutally ‘spined’ by the poachers who paralyse the youngster by hitting them across the back with the same blades they are using to cut off the horn of the parent.

Mr Jacobs said: ‘We’ve lost one black rhino and ten white rhino in the past four weeks, the poachers don’t distinguish between the animals.

‘We have 18,600 white rhino and 5,000 black rhino and we are losing three to five rhinos a day across South Africa.

‘You can do the calculations of how desperate the plight of these animals is.’


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