The Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary, is a 35 acre electrically fenced enclave within Tsavo West National Park where the remaining rhinos within the Tsavo ecosystem and others moved from human settled areas, are kept under tight security having been brought together for breeding purposes in an attempt to retrieve the species from annihilation through rampant poaching for their horn. When the Tsavo National Park first came into being in l949 it was the bastion of Black Rhinos, home to 8,000 out of a total Kenya-wide population of some 20,000. However, by the early nineties, rampant and uncontrolled poaching reduced Kenya’s Black Rhino population almost to the brink of extinction and it was during the mid eighties, when Bill Woodley was Warden of Tsavo West National Park, that 24 square miles just below the Ngulia escarpment was first electrically fenced to house the survivors. When over the years the rhino population within the Sanctuary reached 70 plus, recently some of them were moved out to free range, since a core population was secured within the Sanctuary. Any disturbance to an established rhino population is very disruptive to such a fiercely territorial species, and could possibly be a reason for why the mother of baby “Maalim” rejected her calf.
He was literally only a day or two old when he was found by a Ranger of the same name during a routine patrol of the Sanctuary on the 18th of December - a tiny bundle that looked more like a baby warthog than a rhino with no sign of a mother anywhere near. He was left for a day to see if his mother would retrn, but by evening the calf was very weak, so Ranger Maalim carried him back to the Ranger Base and alerted the Senior Warden Tsavo East who in turn got a message to us that a rhino calf was in urgent need of the Trust’s help and input. It was requested that we take over the little rhino, to save his life and also requested that he be named “Maalim” in honour of the Ranger responsible for rescuing him.
The rescue plane, with a Keeper and the correct rhino milk formula on board, left Nairobi in the early morning of the 19th December, and baby rhino “Maalim” was given his first bottle of milk in situ before flying to Nairobi. By noon he was here, a miniature who weighed just 25 kilos and stood only about 8 inches tall, leaving everyone that caught a glimpse of him enchanted and aghast! He is now fed four hourly, attended by a different Keeper day and night, and is making good progress.