9-Year-Old South African Has Raised Thousands to Save An Orphaned Baby Rhino

When nine-year-old South African, Hunter Mitchell heard about a baby rhinoceros that had been abandoned by its mother, he knew he had to help.

At least 736 rhinos have been murdered by poachers in South Africa so far this year, making it likely that 2014 will go down in history as the deadliest year for rhino fatalities.

The most devastating aspect of the illegal activity may be observed in the faces of the survivors it leaves behind, even though the tragedy of poaching is frequently linked with images of bleeding corpses being cruelly stripped of their horns.

Despite the fact that the rhino is still young and may never be released back into the wild, her carers say she is doing “very well.”

Hunter’s public appeal raised more than R75,000 South African rand and he has since become an ambassador for the Aquila reserve.

His efforts also took him all the way to Australia, where he was presented with the Visionary Wildlife Warrior award from Australia Zoo in Queensland.

The award is recognition for Hunter’s efforts on behalf of Osita and rhino conservation in South Africa, but his work isn’t done yet.

They weren’t the only ones who were impressed by the 9 year old. The Steve Irwin Foundation also awarded him the Visionary Wildlife Warrior Award in a glitzy ceremony in Australia!

The budding conservationist and keen rhino fan quickly organised a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to care for the calf — named Osita — which was at a nearby game reserve.

“On the news I found out about this abandoned baby rhino who was born at Aquila Private Game Reserve, which is two hours from Cape Town,” Hunter told ABC News Breakfast.

“I decided to help because he was really cute and he wasn’t going to live without his mother.
“So I started to raise money for him.”

Hunter’s public appeal raised more than R75,000 South African rand and he has since become an ambassador for the Aquila reserve.

His efforts also took him all the way to Australia, where he was presented with the Visionary Wildlife Warrior award from Australia Zoo in Queensland.

The award is recognition for Hunter’s efforts on behalf of Osita and rhino conservation in South Africa, but his work isn’t done yet.

They weren’t the only ones who were impressed by the 9 year old. The Steve Irwin Foundation also awarded him the Visionary Wildlife Warrior Award in a glitzy ceremony in Australia!

He visits Osita regularly, taking part in feeding and bathing tasks, and has also set his sights on bigger goals.

“I’m really angry that bad people are poaching these beautiful creatures so I want to make a difference to the world to stop rhino poaching,” Hunter said.

Illegal poaching has decimated the rhino population in Africa in the past few decades and has brought the black rhino species to the brink of extinction.

Conservation group the World Wildlife Fund estimates about 96 per cent of black rhinos were killed by poachers between 1970 and 1992, but conservation efforts have seen the population bounce back in recent years.

Aquila Private Game Reserve conservation manager Divan Grobler said Osita was doing well and was a success story for conservationists.

“He is weighing about 600kg at the moment [and] he’s very playful,”

“We had to take [him] … into our own hands because we can’t lose that genetics.

“That one genetics is so vital for conservation going forward into the rhino genetics pool for Africa.”

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Sources: ABC News | Steve Irwin Foundatio

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