Baby Apollo, rescued on the 21st September 2019 has been with us for just over a month now, and is based out of our field headquarters in Kaluku situated on the Athi River surrounded by Tsavo National Park. This black rhino calf was rescued not far from his present location after his mother died from Anthrax, leaving her calf standing vigil by her motionless form.
Thankfully an aerial patrol spotted the calf and dead Mum from the air and sounded the alarm, with enough daylight left to mount a rescue. Rhino calves are extremely vulnerable to predators and left alone and overnight at just a few months old would spell almost certain death. It was a challenging rescue for sure, involving many different teams explained in Apollo’s profile story, but eventually he was restrained and flown to Kaluku where he lives today.
A month on, Apollo has settled well into his new home and is very happy. He begins his days early, emerging from his stable at six in the morning to mill around close to home after enjoying his morning milk feed. He occupies himself while his Keepers have their morning tea and chapati’s brought to them before preparing for the day ahead. The Keepers look to vary each day, visiting different areas to ensure Apollo’s territory is constantly expanding, all the while having lots of exercise and play while doing so.
Most of the action takes place early in the day and late in the afternoons; the times when the temperature is cooler and the energy levels are high! Midday, in the biting heat, the team tend to rest up in the shade, either on the shaded banks of a dry river bed or under the wide reaching branches of an acacia tortillas tree, or perhaps in the giant shadow of a baobab, allowing Apollo to have a rest. While on their wanders in the bush Apollo is constantly computing the areas he visits and having visited them once he never forgets them. The team like to explore the many river beds in the area and sometimes head down onto the generous beaches on the Athi River; with its soft banks of sand fringed by giant tamarind tress, doum palms and river acacias, it is an ideal playground for long gallops or just rolling around in the cool soft sand. This spectacle never ceases to awaken the lazy hippos who pop their heads up to watch proceedings.
Apollo loves his daily excisions and certainly forces his Keepers to have a good helping of daily aerobic activity, so they are certainly fit because keeping up with his escapades is no easy task! With Apollo galloping at ones heels, one is mindful of his breaking system and just how effective it will be! The sand and mud baths are relished at all times of day, and tummy rubs never fail to lull him into a blissful stupor but never are the mud baths more necessary than in the heat of the day when the sun scorches in hot Tsavo - a lavish coat of red earth mud packed onto his skin not only helps keep him cool but also helps protect him from any irritating insects, and helps keep his skin condition soft and supple. These tactile times with his Keeper’s rubbing his tummy, head, ears and little stub of a horn are savoured at any time of day however.
We always have two Keepers on duty with Apollo because they tend to walk quite far afield, and most days encounter a number of wild animals along the way, varying from elephants, to the tiny dik-dik. His milk feeds are brought to him where ever he is in the bush and between milk feeds his diet is complemented by lavish amounts of greens, much of which he browses on himself, but tasty bits are collected by the Keepers and shared with him too. They are familiar with his favourite shrubs and always make sure healthy bunches are by his side even when he is recumbent and resting. He loves to sleep at their feet, comforted by their close proximity, and takes many naps throughout the day. In the evening he circles back to his stable where he finds his much loved mattress. The love affair with the mattress is still very much evident as he hoists it up and over him before settling down on a soft bed of hay for the night with his mattress covering his head!