Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage to close its doors

THE Fundimelo Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage (FTTRO) has been forced to shut its doors. In a statement released on Facebook on Monday, the orphanage said it was unable to recover after a brutal poaching attack in February. The attack resulted in an assault on staff and the tragic loss of two rhino calves that were both shot and their horns removed.

Since the attack, the Lawrence Anthony Earth Organisation (LAEO), who administers the facility, has focused on the immediate safety of the staff, volunteers and remaining animals on site as well as providing support for the police and security experts investigating the incident.

The LAEO directors detailed an interim plan to move the animals and staff off-site to give their team a chance to recover from the trauma and allow management time to conduct independent security assessments and review the findings of the criminal investigation.

“It is LAEO’s responsibility to ensure that we meticulously weigh up all the factors of the investigation and security reports. Our focus is ensuring that the facility is safe for both people and animals, managed according to best practice animal rehabilitation protocols, and is sustainable.” commented Yvette Taylor from LAEO.

“Ongoing security challenges experienced since the attack and the review of the independent security assessments have resulted in the LAEO Board of Directors making the heart wrenching decision to permanently close the Fundimvelo Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage. The security assessments highlighted critical issues that LAEO management felt could not be mitigated and these factors would have directly compromised the ongoing safety of everyone on-site.”

FTTRO has made arrangements for the remainder of their donated funds to be channeled to the facilities who have taken over the care of the rhino calves.

“Our supporters made donations in good faith to support the care of rhino orphans and we will ensure that their donations are still used for that purpose.” Taylor said. “The animals have now all been moved together with their handlers to ensure continuity of care, and all the rhino calves, as well as Charlie, the hippo, are doing well and have settled in their new surroundings. The Lawrence Anthony Earth Organisation wishes to thank the public for their overwhelming support during this challenging time.”

Shiraz Habbib

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