A blind baby rhino has had its sight restored thanks to a project supported by the Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation.
Meimei, a black rhino, was found stumbling around by rangers from a conservation park and nursed back to health at a centre funded by the charity, based at award winning Yorkshire Wildlife Park.
The vulnerable calf received special eye drops, medical care and formula feeds over a five-month period to get her healthy again.
The rescue act was performed by rangers at the Ol Jogi Conservancy, in Kenya, which is backed by funds from Save the Rhino International and Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation (YWPF).
Meimei’s careful rehabilitation means she has returned to full health and can now be prepared for release back into the wild.
“She wouldn’t have survived very long in that condition if the rangers hadn’t brought her in,” said Cheryl Williams, YWPF trustee. “She had been orphaned by poachers and became blind because of a disease, leaving her unable to forage for food and at risk from predators.”
“The funds raised by generous supporters of the Foundation has helped build havens for injured or orphaned rhinos and Meimei is a shining example of the work that can be done.”
The park, at Branton, near Doncaster, is home to two endangered black rhinos, Hodari and Dayo, and the Foundation has been instrumental in supporting efforts in Africa which has seen a 96% reduction in black rhino numbers from around 20,000 in the 1970s to just 696 today.
A Foundation grant of £9,388 funded the construction of two new rhino enclosures, called bomas, to care for injured or orphaned rhinos requiring veterinary treatment or hand-rearing. A further £5,000 grant helped improve Ol Jogi’s communication systems, including digital radios, so staff can keep track of poaching threats.
“The collaboration with the Foundation has provided crucial funding to our programme partners on the ground, who work day in, day out, in the field monitoring, patrolling and protecting rhinos,” said Cathy Dean, CEO of Save the Rhino International.
“The funding is enhancing the security and wellbeing of both the staff and wildlife at the Reserve, helping to protect these majestic species in the wild.”
Numbers across all rhino species are edging back up, thanks to conservation projects, but poaching remains an ever-present threat.