Saving Mimi


Orphaned rhino helped by Rhino Rescue UK

At 7pm on Tuesday 4 April 2023 gunshots were heard on Sibuya Game Reserve  in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. It would turn out to be a dark and devastating day.  Anti poaching units searched through the night and the following day Mimi, a rhino called Noelle’s one year old calf, was spotted wandering alone. By tracking her, the unit eventually located the dehorned carcasses of two pregnant female rhinos. These two precious rhino, Binky and Noelle, were brutally killed by ruthless poachers.  Both of them  were pregnant and neither of the unborn babies survived the horrific attack. 

White rhino crash , two adult females with a calf, before the tow adults were killed by poachers
Binky, Noelle & Mimi

Binky and Noelle were themselves orphaned calves, as a result of the last poaching incident on the reserve in 2016. 

The loss of these magnificent creatures left everyone at Sibuya heartbroken and outraged.

Binky and Noelle were more than just rhinos – “they were a part of our Sibuya family and will never be forgotten.”

The senseless killings shook everyone to the core, making them more determined than ever to protect their wildlife and continue the mission of conservation.

Mother white rhino Noelle with baby Mimi before Noelle was killed by poachers
Noelle & Mimi before the poaching

Following the barbaric attack, it was discovered that Noelle’s little one, Mimi, had also been shot and wounded. 

She had to be darted and have her wounds treated and she was taken to the rehabilitation hospital. She lost some weight, but that was to be expected due to the enormous amount of stress she had suffered. 

A dedicated team of wildlife experts worked closely with Mimi to ensure she received the necessary medical treatment, support, and care as she recovered. Thankfully, she bonded beautifully with the neighbouring orphan, Ntombi and started to eat.

Rhino Rescue UK contibuted R30 700 towards Mimi’s rehabilitaion.

Mimi’s condition started to improve at the Rehab Hospital, but she was darted again to enable further treatment of her wounds.

Thankfully, the poachers who slaughtered Binky & Noelle and shot little Mimi were arrested. The ‘Chitiyo Gang’ were charged and sentenced in the Makhanda High Court, with each of the accused receiving between 17 to 20 years in prison. 

Well-known wildlife veterinarian, Dr William Fowlds, said, “The sentencing of this gang is a landmark decision, in that it’s the first time a rhino poaching gang has been sentenced for the intent to poach. Not only this but sentenced at the maximum term for what would be applied if they had done the poaching. 

This was a sentence for conspiracy to poach rhinos and not the actual poaching. It is a first for the Eastern Cape where persons have been convicted for conspiracy only and the sentences, I think, send an appropriate message to other like-minded poachers that in the Eastern Cape, they will be dealt with severely.”

Mimi has now recovered from her injuries and is in the last stages of rehabilitation, so there is no human contac with her. Two other female rhino will join her in the beginning of march for the final few weeks before all 3 are transported to Sibuya.

This is very exciting times as our vision and dreams are starting to come to light.

We are delighted to help again with offering support to see her successful transition back home to Sibuya.

Amongst all of the dark images, sometimes we need to step back and remind ourselves why we are all involved in this. 

orphaned white rhino calves with their sheep companion
Mimi, Ntombi with their friend Frank the sheep

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