SOUTH AFRICA (CBS) -- One of the world's first dedicated baby rhino orphanages has opened its doors in South Africa.
The first resident is a five-month-old black rhino, who is believed to have been abandoned by his mother. The youngster is yet to be given a name, but is doing well under the 24-hour attention from staff at the Entabeni Safari Conservancy in South Africa.
Located in the Limpopo Province north of Johannesburg, the center is set to give baby rhinos who have been orphaned by poachers - a new lease of life. Rhino Conservationist Karen Trendler says the orphanage forms a vital part of the Rhino Response Strategy National Rescue and Response network.
"The poaching crises that is currently causing lots of problems in the country is producing a large number of casualties and included in those casualties are very traumatized and often injured rhino calves. These calves need very specific handling in order for one to recover from trauma, to be reared in a way that can be healthy and viable animals and be put back into the wild, because it is only when they can go back to into the wild , they can breed and rear their young successfully that they contribute to the overall conservation effort," she said.
South Africa is home to the vast majority of the planet's rhinos. According to the latest data from South Africa's department of environmental affairs, in the first half of 2012 around 245 rhinos were poached there, meaning the total for the year it likely to exceed 2011's figures. While a decade ago only a handful of rhinos were being taken.
Rhino horns have been sought after for centuries, but it's their alleged healing powers that apparently fueled a rise in poaching.
The centre will not be open to the public as the rhinos need to be protected and have the very best chance of survival so they can hopefully be released back into the wild.
The Wildlife Centre is already home to a range of endangered species and animals being rehabilitated, including the once mythical white lions.