Mrs. Rhino and her new born calf, Johnny, lived on the plains of Africa along with other black rhinos and their calves. The group kept close together as they grazed on the savannah’s grass and occasionally on the leaves of the trees. Johnny liked having the company of the other calves since he was the only calf for his mother and was still considered a newborn at three months of age.
One day while Mrs. Rhino, her calf and the rest of the group were peacefully grazing on an expanse of grass, they heard a strange sound coming from the distance. It was a sound they had heard before and they knew it meant danger. The group started to run in the opposite direction, gently herding the calves into the middle of the circle with the adults on the outside. Johnny wasn’t sure what was going on but he could feel the fear emanating from this mother. He tried to run as fast as his little legs could carry him. As he glanced back, he could see men in a strange vehicle racing towards them. The men had long guns aimed at them.
The rhinos ran faster and faster but the jeep was too fast for them and the distance between them kept getting smaller and smaller. Soon the jeep was right behind them and seemed as if it was going to drive right through the group. As Johnny glanced around, he noticed another jeep on their left side. Mrs. Rhino was the only thing that stood between Johnny and the jeep. He was even more afraid now that the poachers were so close. Fear made him try to run faster but his legs were tired. Suddenly a shot rang through the air and his mother let out a yell of pain. She had been shot but it would take more than one bullet to keep a rhino down.
The poachers, knowing that Mrs. Rhino was wounded, continued to aim at her. Johnny could feel his mother slowing down and he slowed down as well. He could not leave her. The rest of the group raced on. There was nothing else they could do. Soon Mrs. Rhino’s injuries would not let her carry-on. With a loud scream she fell to the ground. Johnny ran towards his mother. “Go and hide!” she screamed at him. “Go now!”
He ran behind a clump of trees and watched as his mother continued to breathe heavily from her injuries and then suddenly she made one last deep gulp of air and let it out. With that she closed her eyes and he instinctively knew that she was dead. The poachers descended on her with their guns and saws. In a few minutes they had removed her precious horns and moved on. Johnny ran to his mother’s body, tears streaming down his face. He was all alone now. He curled up next to her body and sobbed throughout the night.
The next day, he was awakened by the sound of human voices close by. However, there was something different about these voices. They were soft and gentle, unlike the poachers, plus he didn’t have any energy to run. These new humans dug a hole to bury his mother and then gently led him away. Soon he found himself in a new place far away from the familiar savannahs. He was in an enclosure. He looked around for his mother and then he remembered that she was no more. He was very hungry and started to cry again. Soon a woman appeared and tried to give him milk from a bottle. It did not taste like his mother’s milk but he was too hungry to care about the taste.
Soon he was taken to a larger enclosure with a lot of grass to graze on. He was introduced to a baby elephant that seemed to live there. With no other animals around, Johnny and the elephant quickly became friends. They grazed together and played together. Other orphaned calves were brought into the enclosure but Johnny and the goat continued to be best of friends.
Eventually Johnny got used to his new life at the Rhino Center which provided a home to orphaned calves whose mothers were killed by the poachers. One day he would be returned to the wild but for now he was enjoying his new life with his new friend.
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