We sure are grateful for this glimmer of good rhino-related news. After a particularly gloomy week marked by the release of South Africa's shocking rhino poaching statistics for 2014, today we all get to celebrate the birth of a pretty special rhino calf. That's because the youngster was born to a true rhino survivor.

Thandi the rhino was one of three rhinos brutally attacked during a poaching incident in South Africa's Kariega Game Reserve in 2012. The only one to survive, she's since had to endure numerous operations – including pioneering skin graft surgery – as veterinarians worked to repair the damage from horrific machete wounds inflicted by the poachers. 

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Thandi sustained horrific injuries after a 2012 poaching attack. Image: Kariega Game Reserve
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Image: Kariega Game Reserve

Now, three years after the tragedy, Thandi's tiny new arrival has given staff at Kariega reason to celebrate. The birth took place early yesterday morning and both mom and calf are said to be doing well. "I am sure that the whole rhino caring community will share in the joy of this amazing birth. Thandi’s story has always been an incredible testimony of the will to survive against all odds. She represents so much of what her species faces under the current poaching crisis," says Dr William Fowlds, one of the vets involved in Thandi's incredible recovery.

The reserve’s veterinary team learnt of Thandi’s pregnancy in December 2013 after performing some blood tests. The gestation period of a white rhino is approximately 16 months ... and that's a very long time to wait for such an eagerly anticipated birth. "We have been waiting for this day since we first discovered that Thandi was at the end of the third trimester of her pregnancy ... It is incredible that the rhino we found so close to death nearly three years ago is now the mother of a beautiful calf,” says the reserve's general manager Alan Weyer.

In order to ensure the rhinos' safety and well-being, an area in the reserve has been designated off-limits to all park-goers. But even though the precious pair is being kept out of sight, we can still take a peek at the adorable newborn thanks to snapshots taken by WWF photographer-in-residence Adrian Steirn. "[Capturing] this incredible moment was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Thandi's story has captivated the world since she became a beacon of hope in the fight against rhino poaching. To see her with a beautiful, healthy calf is truly a privilege and should inspire optimism and renewed commitment to protect these incredible creatures," says Steirn.

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Spot the new arrival! Thandi and her calf are said to be doing well. Image: Kariega Game Reserve