Wiaan van der Linde
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Based on an interview with Ansabet Snyman – manager of Wild Heart Rehab Centre
What is Wild Hearts Rehab Centre?
The Wild Hearts Rehab Centre focusses on the rehabilitation and re-introduction of the various game back into their natural habitat. It is managed by Ansabet Snyman who has been the manager since the centre officially opened its doors in 2012. Ansabet has a history of looking after the ill and injured animals on the farm and got her first orphaned monkey in 2006. Since then, her love for animals grew until she, together with the owner of the centre, Wiaan van der Linde, decided to open the Wild Hearts Rehab Centre.
What kind of animals does the Wild Hearts Rehab Centre have?
The Wild Hearts Rehab Centre is home to a variety of game, from lions, a brown hyena, genet, caracal, serval, monkeys and baboons, buffalo, roan, sable and of course, rhinos. Most of the animals will be set free when they are ready to do so. There are however a few animals that, because of their history, will be looked after at the Wild Hearts premises for life.
Does the Wild Hearts Rehab Centre have any specific focus?
The centre has a special heart and focus when it comes to the rehabilitation of orphaned rhinos. Most of the baby rhino’s mothers have been poached or died due to natural causes. The centre’s first orphaned rhino arrived in 2011 and since then, the centre has never had a day without a baby rhino under its care. Up to date, Ansabet and her team have nurtured and rehabilitated 22 rhinos.
What does it take to rehabilitate a baby rhino?
Quite extensive resources have to be implemented in order to rehabilitate a baby rhino. A day old rhino, for instance, must be looked after day and night, preferably by the same person and will drink milk every two hours. A baby rhino is looked after until it is 18 months old and may drink 30-liters of milk a day (depending on the individual rhino). After it is weaned, it will first be transferred to a bigger camp, before it is introduced to the wild again. A rhino of between 12 and 24 months may be specifically susceptible to stomach ulcers due to the stress of weaning. Wild Hearts are fortunate to have a veterinary on the farm, who is able to provide a professional service if needed. The rhinos are continually monitored and weighed to ensure good health. In short, the rehabilitation of a rhino takes considerable financial resources, team effort, time, energy and lots of attention.
What does the rehabilitation of rhinos mean to you on a personal level?
There is a lot of rewards when its comes to working with baby rhinos. Each rhino has a different personality, likes and dislikes – and that is what makes it special. To come to understand each rhino on its own personal level and to fulfill its needs as such. It makes the day that they are released into the wild bittersweet. One is glad that they are strong enough to be able to survive on its own but also sad, as you lose a baby that you’ve nurtured for 18 months.
Is the Wild Hearts Rehab Centre open for the public?
Wild Hearts is open to the public as they believe that education is an integral part of the anti-poaching effort. The general public and local schools are welcome to visit the Wild Hearts educational facility in order to learn and see more about nature conservation.