I read this story on the NatGeo website back in December. My first though was, “Oh my goodness! He’s just like my Desmond!” This story is absolutely incredible. Here’s an excerpt:
Nicky was born with cataracts, but will hopefully have surgery to repair them this Spring.
“Nicky is just like any other baby rhino. He likes to play and is curious about the world around him. Only the world doesn’t look the same to this little black rhino because he was born blind.
With his lack of vision, Nicky is particularly vulnerable and at risk from predators in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya.
To keep him safe from harm, Nicky has been living at the family home of Mike Watson, Lewa’s CEO, since he was one month old. He has his own boma (enclosure) with a padded play area and a straw-lined room for sleeping. His best animal friend is a yellow Labrador, one of the Watsons’ family dogs.
The Watson family and two experienced handlers, Yusuf and Tonga, care for Nicky around-the-clock. He is never left alone for a minute and there is always someone on hand to look after his needs and show him the way. He spends his days running around, taking afternoon naps and wallowing in his mud bath.
When we arrived, Nicky was sound asleep under his blanket, tucked in tightly just the way he likes it. It wasn’t long before he woke up, stretched his short legs and began bounding around, occasionally banging into things. Nothing seems to dampen his playful spirit, except for the rain. He really doesn’t like getting wet.
During our stay, the downpour was the least of Mike’s worries when poachers killed four rhinos on the conservancy. This tragic loss served as a reminder of the importance of hand-raising Nicky in a secure environment. Already, he is acting as an ambassador for black rhinos in the fight for the survival of his species.
By early next year, Mike and the Lewa staff are hoping to raise enough funds to fly in a specialist to perform cataract surgery to restore Nicky’s eyesight. In these troubling times, when the life of every rhino counts, it was heart-warming to witness the care and compassion shown for this blind baby rhino.
So what’s the story with Nicky? How did he come to reside in the boma that he currently calls home?
Nicky’s story is closely tied with the story of the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. Since the early 1980s, Lewa has worked to protect rhinos from poachers and ensure the survival of these endangered animals, particularly the black rhinos that are one of Lewa’s two “flagship species,” along with the Grevy’s zebra. Black rhinos are being poached at a horrifying and unsustainable rate and our primary goal is to ensure the survival of these majestic creatures.
Several months ago, two of Lewa’s rangers observed a new-born black rhino calf that was displaying unusual behaviour: running into things, straying away from his mother, and generally getting confused. The Lewa veterinary team intervened and confirmed original suspicions that he was blind.
The chances for a blind male black rhino’s survival in the wild are very slim, so Nicky was picked up by the Lewa wildlife and security teams and brought to a “boma” or enclosure, where he could be raised in a safe and protected environment. The first few days in his new home were difficult for him, but now he’s thriving, growing, and getting into all kinds of trouble.
What does a typical day look like for Nicky?
Nicky enjoys his life. He wakes up early in the morning both hungry and ready to play. He goes crazy for a couple of hours running around, bumping into things and playing with his handler. He then sleeps again for another couple of hours, wakes up, takes a walk with the minders, and occasionally our family dogs, then takes a mud bath – his favorite activity.
For those who are interested in supporting Nicky, what should they do?
There are several ways to support Nicky and other black rhinos like him:
This is just part of the article. Read the rest here: http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/12/17/caring-for-nicky-the-blind-baby-rhino/
I find this story to be so inspiring! Nicky is beautiful, I would love to meet him and the caring people who have given him a safe home.
How about you? Have you ever considered rehabilitating baby rhinos?