When January brought us the release of some shocking (and record-breaking) rhino poaching statistics, a very special rhino birth in South Africa provided us with a much-needed glimmer of hope amid all gloom. 

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Image courtesy of Kariega Game Reserve.

Thandi the rhino was one of three rhinos brutally attacked during a poaching incident in the Kariega Game Reserve in 2012. The only one to survive, she had to endure numerous operations to repair damage from horrific machete wounds inflicted by the poachers. But Thandi recovered – and, three years after her ordeal, she gave birth to a healthy female calf. The against-all-odds story inspired people all over the world and helped raise global awareness about South Africa's rhino poaching crisis.

As a safety precaution, Thandi and her newborn were kept in a secret, off-limits location, but proud reserve staff shared regular updates about the youngster's progress (and some adorable photos) on the Kariega blog.  

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Image: Angie Goody

A rhino as symbolically special as this one deserved a name to match, and the little calf has just been given a very fitting moniker: 'Thembi', which means 'hope' in the Xhosa language, one of the official languages of South Africa. Kariega staff announced the name at a small ceremony at the reserve this week.

“The name Thembi seemed to fit best given that this little calf has brought fresh hope and energy to those who struggle to secure the future of our rhino. She is a new generation of life, one I hope will never experience a poaching incident like her mother...," says Dr William Fowlds, one of the vets involved in Thandi's incredible recovery.

He adds: “Thandi has changed my life. I can’t say it is for the better, as I could never wish to fight a war such as this one ... [But] she has inspired action in myself, and many around me ... She now celebrates life, and with it the hope that against all odds, we can and we will overcome the massive challenges that threaten ... the rhino.” 

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Image courtesy of Kariega Game Reserve.
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