A CHINOVA Resources nurse has been offered a three month placement in South Africa to care for baby rhinoceros’ traumatised by poaching.
Emergency response nurse Ruby Bell had not yet worked at Osborne Mine, 150 kilometres south of Cloncurry, for four months as Fly In, Fly Out, when she learned she could study at the Rhino Orphanage as part of her animal physiotherapy studies.
She will mainly work with white rhinoceros for her course at the United Kingdom’s College of Animal Physiotherapy.
“I want to learn about rhino rehabilitation,” Ms Bell said. “There is an Australian Rhino project with a few hundred coming to South Australia...I would like to get involved in that at a later date and learn more about animal husbandry.”
Ms Bell did not want to resign from her job but had to tell her general manager, Bob Hayes, about the placement offered from November 24. Mr Hayes said there would be a job waiting for her when she returned to Queensland. “He said ‘we don’t need to make it difficult, you can go,’ which was incredibly kind,” Ms Bell said. “Bob genuinely cares about the planet. He said ‘yep, you can go, that’s a good thing to do.’”
“I am incredibly lucky for them to give me the chance to go because they could say ‘no, you just started, forget about it’.”
The camp is holding a raffle to help fund-raise for a blood analysis for the baby rhinos that Ms Bell will work with.
Ms Bell already has worked in a rhino orphanage two years ago. She volunteered internationally to recover from the loss of her two bulldogs. “They were the love of my life and I was absolutely devastated,” she said. “I wanted to go over to help rhinos to heal my own pain.
“It was incredibly healing.
“They are like puppy dogs, they are beautiful creatures, big puppy dogs that lay on their backs to get scratched.
“They cry like babies when they want their milk...big softies, it breaks my heart what happens to them.”
The interview with Ms Bell, and the placement she talked about, is coincidentally timed with World Rhino Day on Friday. She said a rhino is killed every six hours for its ivory, which has become a status symbol in Vietnam and worth more than gold on the black market. The babies are occasionally killed trying to protect their mother from poachers, or are left abandoned and vulnerable to hyenas.
When rescued they are often traumatised, Ms Bell said. Carers such as Ms Bell will work 24 hour shifts working and sleeping with them. The aim is to withdraw the human contact when they are ready and to help them bond for life with other rhinos their own age.
“When you see the babies come in and so traumatised, and see them go through this process of learning to trust, and getting the other babies to accept them as part of their group, it’s – just no words to describe it really,” Ms Bell said.
“They are so brave what they are going through and they are so magical.
“They are unicorns.”