Baby rhino rescued via helicopter after poachers kill its mother

When poachers kill rhinos for their horns, calves that are left behind are almost certain to perish. But for one newly orphaned calf, there’s hope for recovery and, eventually, a return to the wild.

According to the nonprofit, African Wildlife Vets, a ranger and veterinarian for Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park in South Africa spotted the de-horned rhino carcass this week while conducting an aerial search for buffalo.

Wandering nearby was the 6-week-old male rhino calf.

African Wildlife Vets described what happened next on Facebook:

“Dr. Rowan Leeming immobilized the small calf and they placed it on the back seat of the helicopter. The calf was rushed to the Zululand Rhino Orphanage where he was given a drip to rehydrate him and rhino plasma to strengthen his immune system.

“The experienced team at the orphanage will do everything they can to ensure his recovery and then his well being until he is old enough to be released back into the wild.”

Zululand Rhino Orphanage has shared photos and videos via Instagram showing the baby rhino, blindfolded to keep him calm, receiving care from staff.

Rhinos are poached for their keratin-rich horns, which are sold in Asian markets and used largely for medicinal purposes.

Rhinoceros populations have been decimated – about 27,000 wild rhinos exist globally, down from 70,000 in 1970 – and few rhinos survive outside national parks and reserves.

The intentional removal of rhino horns by conservations inside reserves is now a common method designed to keep the animals safe from poachers.

Story originally appeared on For The Win