The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya is home to a four months old black rhino named Nicky. Living with the Watson family since he was one month old, the family and his caretakers are doing everything they can to ensure that this crucial member of a fast dying species survives in spite of his blindness.Nicky was born on 25th August 2012 and turned four months old on Christmas. He was named by a generous sponsor and since he was one month old Nicky has been living with Mike Watson, the CEO of the sanctuary.
Nicky’s blindness is thought to be due to congenital cataracts. This is not an irreversible condition, which is why Lewa staff is hopeful that surgery can help restore his eyesight. A team of specialists plan to visit Lewa, early next year and operate on Nicky’s eyes.
But meanwhile the enthusiastic little rhino needs a lot of attention and care 24 x7.
He has his own enclosure, with thickly padded walls so he can play all day, and a smaller room for sleeping. His best friend is the Watson family Labrador though Nicky is outgrowing his companion.
Two experienced minders, Yusuf and Tonga look after the baby Rhino at all times as it is still risky to leave him with his mother. At his age, left to wander in the sanctuary, Nicky could easily be attacked by a lion or injure himself by falling into a burrow or stepping in the mud. With the rise in poaching activities in Africa, a blind, black baby rhino becomes all the more vulnerable.
But Yusuf, Tonga and other members of the staff ensure that Nicky gets to do all things a growing rhino needs in the safe environment. The two are also teaching him things like which leaves to eat, so that the rhino can fend for itself as it grows older.
According to Africa Geographic, his daily routine includes eating, playing, lots of running around and afternoon mud baths. He likes to sleep through the night, but if he gets hungry, cold or scared he wakes his minder by squealing, jumping on him and generally throwing a bit of a fuss. The same thing happens if his blanket falls off during the night.
The sanctuary bears on an average $1,265 per month to look after Nicky including the veterinary costs and salary of the keepers.
The team says, “This sad time Nicky serves as a happy reminder of why we must continue to do everything we can to protect these magnificent animals. Lewa would like to send a big Thank You to everyone for the outpouring of support for Nicky so far. While we cannot know what his future holds, we do know that the Lewa teams will do everything possible to ensure he lives a happy and healthy rhino life.”
By mid-December, poachers had killed 633 rhinos in South Africa. Four black rhinos were recently killed within days in Lewa by poachers. In trying times, the team is therefore clinging to hope and helping one baby grow older and stronger safely.