Helena Kriel, founder of Baby Rhino Rescue

by | Mar 16, 2016

Helena Kriel—founder of Baby Rhino Rescue, which seeks to raise awareness of the rhino poaching crisis, and raise money for the care of baby rhinos who’ve become orphaned through that poaching—recalls her formative years in South Africa, growing up with a strong affinity for animals. thor_jo_streuli_ 19Still, as she reached adulthood, she explains, working with animals or in animal welfare wasn’t something she seriously considered—Kriel launched a career as a playwright and television writer in South Africa, then relocated to Hollywood, where she began working as a screenwriter. Kriel explains how her involvement with rhinos began, accompanying her sister on an outing to volunteer at an animal facility, Care For Wild Africa, located near Kruger tank_0788National Park (one of Africa’s largest game reserves). But there were scant details provided beforehand about the duties they would perform, or the animals involved. So they were delighted, upon their arrival, to learn they’d be helping with rhinos, and within an hour, Kriel recalls, she was bottle feeding milk to a baby rhino. She also recounts duties entrusted to her as she became a more experienced volunteer, notably including looking after traumatized baby rhinos who were orphaned in the wake of poachers killing their mothers, often in savage attacks to remove the teenagers_1277coveted horn. It’s not uncommon for the babies to witness their mother’s killing, Kriel points out, and—in a horrific irony I’ll long be haunted by—the rhino_moving_1177baby rhinos, as highly emotional animals, tend to seek solace during these episodes in their immediate proximity…which can mean they’re trying to be comforted by the poacher! She describes the carefully-designed treatment for these traumatized orphans, and the resources required for that treatment, including volunteers like herself staying with the babies around the clock for the first few days after they arrive. Kriel addresses some of the factors driving the poaching crisis, including specifics of the current black market value of rhino horn. (www.babyrhinorescue.org)

facebook_event_1727591364142344ALSO: I spoke briefly with Sherry Silk, chief executive office of the Humane Society of Tampa Bay (HSTB), who described HSTB’s then-impending Bark In The Park fundraiser—the 29th year of the event. (http://humanesocietytampa.org)

COMEDY CORNER: Kyle Kinane’s “Cat Sneeze” (http://kylekinane.com)

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s “Tarkus” (snippet…R.I.P., Keith Emerson), instrumentals

 NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: Adrian Belew’s “The Lone Rhinoceros”


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