Solio's Story

The very word Solio is indicative of saving the Black Rhino as a species here in Kenya, for when Black Rhinos had all but disappeared from their natural native ranges, including Tsavo National Park (once the home of 8,000), it was on 17,500 acre Solio Ranch under tight security that the species managed to proliferate from a mere handful introduced 40 years ago to some 90 individuals. And it is from the Solio population that rhinos have been reintroduced to other Protected Areas since the 80’s. It was also to Solio that David Sheldrick moved Tsavo East’s orphaned rhino Reudi in the 60’s, who was continually under attack from other rhinos, and who became the breeding bull of the ranch. Consequently Reudi has probably fathered most of the living rhinos in Kenya today. Subsequent to that, in 1976 when David was transferred from Tsavo East to head the Planning Unit in Nairobi, two remaining Tsavo rhino orphans, Stroppie and Pushmi were also transferred to Solio where he knew they would be protected and cared for. There they lived in a 50 acre paddock until Stroppie recently died of old age in her late thirties but Pushmi survives still, undoubtedly the oldest rhino in Kenya, and a stunning specimen with a magnificent horn.

Solio's Story

Recently, however, Solio has also come under attack and some of its rhinos have been poached. One such casualty could be the mother of our most recent orphan who was rescued on the 23rd September, the mother rendered immobile from her injuries, however to be clear the reason for her injury has not been confirmed.

The Rescue alert came to us during the afternoon of the 23rd September 2010 when a Caravan aircraft was with 4 Keepers aboard plus all the paraphernalia required to overpower and airlift back to the Nursery what we were told was a 6 month old calf. However, when the Rescue Party arrived, they found that the young rhino was thought to be older than 6 months – probably closer to a year, and extremely feisty – far too aggressive to risk being in a plane. Having already been immobilized to load into a crate, the KWS Vet in attendance did not want to risk another sedation hence the Rescue Plane returned empty, leaving the two Keepers with the young rhino.

The Keepers had not anticipated spending a freezing night at high altitude, without blankets or food. Angela phoned a friend, Tanya Church, who happens to own the recently built small exclusive Lodge on the Ranch. They came to the rescue, bringing blankets, food and water to the stranded Keepers, who spent an uncomfortable night beside the crated rhino on the Solio Airfield.

Meanwhile, Lewa very kindly provided the truck needed, and the rhino arrived on our doorstep at 5 a.m. in morning of the 24th, waking up all the elephants in the Nursery who began bellowing for their milk earlier than usual.

The problem was now how to unload what was an extremely weighty cargo which actually required a Fork Lift or a Block and Tackle. Neither were available locally, so it required the ingenuity and expertise of Robert (Angela's husband) to undertake this task and this he did, with the help of tow ropes attached to the crate and pulled in unison by two Landrovers, with all the Keepers beside the crate to ensure that it remained upright as it was gradually eased down a ramp onto log rollers. This was accomplished successfully, and the next essential was to inoculate the calf with antibiotics to forestall pneumonia and other ailments brought on by stress due to a resultant depressed immune system. Crouched on top of the Crate, and using pole syringe, Robert managed to inject both the antibiotic, and vitamins.

The little rhino was extremely strong still, but quite obviously badly in need of both water and sustenance. Thereafter the Crate was maneuvered to the dividing entrance to Kandecha’s night Stockade, abutting the one set aside for the new rhino, so that the newcomer could be let out into Kandecha’s quarters, and the crate then hauled back through the entrance to its designated Stockade.

She came out hesitatingly, and thereafter repeatedly smashed against the walls and door of the Stockade, attempting to deal with all in sight. Only the soft exhalation of breath - the sound with which a mother calls its baby, relaxed the calf a little, indicated by the attitude of the ears, but the little rhino was nevertheless still far too aggressive to risk being handled. Once the Crate was out of the way, the calf was tempted into its designated Stockade and the dividing door between the two stockades closed by remote control, everyone still keeping well out of the way!

The new orphan is a female, and named Solio. She is extremely important to the survival of the species since the demand for rhino horn in the Far East is rapidly driving this ancient species to extinction. Her Stockade abuts that of blind Maxwell, who was very interested in the entire procedure, and whose rhino scent will hopefully help provide a calming influence for the calf because she will know she is not alone.

Two Keepers have been with the little rhino constantly since that day. A bottle brush strapped onto a long stick seems to have done the trick and the tickling brush has caressed Solio into submission and she is now totally trusting of the Keepers and insatiable in her desires to be pampered with mudwallow rubbing, dust baths and tickling. Those can all take place at close quarters now, and the tickling brush has now been discarded.

Adopt Solio for yourself or as a gift for a loved one.

Important Note: Thank you for adopting and being part of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust family. It is important to note that your donation will help any orphan in need. Our orphans will need more than one adoptive parent.

Adopt Solio for yourself or as a gift for a loved one.

Important Note: Thank you for adopting and being part of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust family. It is important to note that your donation will help any orphan in need. Our orphans will need more than one adoptive parent.

Current age

9 years old



Rescued date

1 October 2010

Rescue Location

Laikipia, Solio Ranch

Date of Birth (approximate)

1 April 2010

Reason Orphaned


Age at Rescue

6 months old (approx)

Current Location

Living Wild

Solio's featured photos

Our digital adoption programme includes the following:

Personalised adoption certificate.

Monthly email update on your orphan and the project.

Monthly water colour by Angela Sheldrick.

Access to special content; latest Keepers' Diaries, videos and photos

Give Solio the gift of life by adopting today.

Latest updates featuring Solio

Updates: Hope for Rhinos - DSWT funded Meru Rhino Sanctuary extension and upgrade

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Updates: Maxwell's Escapade

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Updates: A New Orphaned Rhino; Sobo

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Solio's Latest Photos

Maxwell loves Solio's visits

Maxwell spots Solio!

Max has been happy to see Solio

Solio eating her lucerne

Rorogoi before meeting Solio

Solio visiting her stockade

Solio with Maxwell behind her

Solio eating lucerne in her stockade