By Nathalie Bonney

AN ABANDONED baby rhino is now thriving after being rescued at a wildlife conservancy

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Videographer / Director: Camilla Le May
Producer: Mark Hodge, Nick Johnson

On realising the keepers were struggling without lights at night and had no power points in their rooms to charge their phones, Camila donated to the team 9 solar lights that double up as phone chargers

Five-month-old Ringo - now named after Beatles drummer Ringo Starr - was rejected by his mother and found collapsed when nearly two-weeks-old, by staff at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.

The southern white rhino was born in October to first-time mum, Curra, but after she failed to feed him, staff at the conservancy came to the rescue.

Camilla specialises in sculpting animals, particularly wildlife, which she is passionate about conserving and over the years $70,000 has been raised for various charities from her sculptures

Ringo, who was severely dehydrated, also had a medical condition and was underweight, but he was nursed back to health by a specialist team. 

Now boisterous Ringo enjoys nothing more than a gum boot massage, a stroll through the park and tucking into oats and milk.

Ringo will not sleep throughout the night so one of the assigned keepers sleeps beside him

Camilla Le May, a British sculptor, was on Ol Pejeta Conservancy sculpting Sudan, the last male northern white rhino in existence and was fortunate enough to see Ringo during his first days with his mother and spend some time with him after his rescue.

Camilla said: “Ringo is now a strong boy and is happy and thriving. His every need is being catered for around the clock by a small team of dedicated and knowledgeable keepers and is a delight to be around.”

Ringo’s day is spent sleeping, feeding and playing and he is now starting to learn to graze

Ringo enjoys a diet of lactogen, porridge oats, glucose and salts and requires feeding five to six times a day. 

He is taken on daily runs to keep him fit and is also learning the art of mud wallowing – something he’s not too keen on at the moment. 

Ringo was found collapsed and was taken in by the team on Ol Pejeta conservancy and nursed back to health

Wallowing in mud is important for rhinos, keeping insects at bay, acting as a sunscreen and cooling them in the heat of the day.

Camilla says: “He has to be tricked by a milk bottle to get him to the mud, pushed in, then persuaded to wait in the wallow; while he is covered in mud by the keepers.

Curra, Ringo’s mother was a first time mum and was not letting him feed which resulted in Ringo being taken into care

"Having been hand-reared he often sucks on trouser legs looking for milk. He also loves gumboots or wellingtons as he fast discovered the rough soles are great for scratching his itchy skin on."

It’s hoped that Ringo will be reintroduced to the wild in the next two to three years, as part of a plan to preserve the threatened species from extinction.

Camilla said: "Having been hand reared he often sucks on trouser legs looking for milk"

In 2015 nearly 1,200 rhinos were killed by poachers in South Africa alone. Rhinos are heavily poached for their horns, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine and as a status symbol and are worth more per kilo than gold.  

Rhino horn is composed of the protein keratin, which is the same component found in human fingernails, hair and in animal hooves and there is no proof of any medicinal benefit.

Ringo is now a strong boy and is happy and thriving, his every need being catered for, round the clock, by the small team of dedicated and knowledgable keepers

Camilla Le May specialises in animal sculptures and has combined her passion for art with her love of rhinos and wildlife conservation. The artist has raised $70,000 for various charities through selling her sculptures with $43,000 being for rhino and elephant conservation.

Camilla hopes that her video footage of cute Ringo will show the world what wonderful animals they are and why they need protecting and to build awareness of their plight and to discourage use of their horn in the east.

He has to be tricked by a milk bottle to get him to the mud, pushed in, then persuaded to wait in the wallow, while he is covered in mud by the keepers

She said: “I hope my footage shows people what delightful and fascinating animals rhinos are and if it reaches eyes in the east, to encourage consumers to stop fuelling the cruel and devastating killing of these precious creatures for a fake medicine, which has no proven health benefits and is driving the various rhino species worldwide to extinction at present rates of slaughter.

Camilla's passion for rhinos was initially inspired by a great friendship she had with Anna Merz, a well known rhino conservationist

"The horn is keratin, the same substance as our finger nails so they may as well chew on their nails.

"To drive a species to extinction for pure human greed is reprehensible and all for a fake belief. It is too late for the western black rhino which was killed out of existence in 2011 and the northern white rhino is at the brink of extinction now with only three left in the world.”

Links:

 https://www.olpejetaconservancy.org/ringo

 https://www.camillalemay.com