A starving baby rhino has been filmed desperately trying to feed from its dead mother who had been killed by poachers for her horn.
The heartbreaking footage was captured just last week in a national park in South Africa, by the rescue charity Rhino 911.
As the camera rolls the tiny one-month-old rhino can be heard calling for its mother as it tries to nudge her head and then suckle for milk.
Rescuers think that just hours earlier the female had been killed and then had both her horns hacked off.
Usually the poachers kill the calf too, despite it having no horn, as they often disturb the process of getting the horn, as they desperately cling to their mother.
At least in this case Lottie – as she has been dubbed – survived.
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Because of a now natural fear of humans Lottie had to be blindfolded and sedated, but was so small she was able to be bundled into the back of an SUV by Rhino 911.
The location of the attack has not been revealed for fear of encouraging more poachers.
Once on the black market rhino horn can make the poacher £10,000 a horn, with the values rising to hundreds of thousands for the final sold ‘product’, which often ends up in the Far East.
Helicopter pilot Nico Jacobs, from the charity Rhino 911, said Lottie’s tragedy was even more worrying because it happened right in the middle of a 220 square-mile park where it is usually harder for poachers to reach.
He said: “We had a call from the head of some of the rhinos in this park who quite by coincidence spotted this calf walking alone and dehydrated.
“She immediately alerted me and I was able to find the mum and see what was wrong, because it was not normal for a baby to be on their own. It’s completely abnormal.
“When I got there, we found the mum shot dead in the ravine and with both her horns hacked off.
"Fortunately for us the baby had gone back to its mum and we were able to immediately alert the vet and to take it to safety.”
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Nico said the baby was just a month old and that same night lions were already on the mothers carcass, so the youngster would not have stood a chance.
He said: “We’ve lost now 11 rhinos in the last four weeks, in that specific park.
“It’s usually very difficult for them to be to poach in the middle of the park and then leave without us getting hold of them, so this is worrying.
“I think they are hiding out in the mountains at night and then doing these killings early in the morning which is the time when that cow was shot.”
Nico said sadly the babies are often shot or brutally ‘spined’ by the poachers who paralyse the youngster by hitting them across the back with the same blades they are using to cut off the horn of the parent.
He said: “We’ve lost one black rhino and ten white rhino in the past four weeks, the poachers don’t distinguish between the animals.
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“We have 18,600 white rhino and 5,000 black rhino and we are losing three to five rhinos a day across South Africa.
" You can do the calculations of how desperate the plight of these animals is.”
Rhino 911 is a non-profit organisation using helicopter pilots like Nico to get to the rhinos in need as quickly as possible, entirely funded by themselves and from donations.
He said: “We are basically providing air support, spotting the poachers, air-lifting the rhinos to orphanages and flying in the vets.
“Sadly, we can’t fly all the calls we get just because of the funding, there are just too many calls and we can get sometimes four calls a day.”