Injured White Rhino calf next to the slaughtered body of his mum Image Credit: Twitter

Dubai: A picture of an injured white rhino calf lying next to the slaughtered body of his mum went viral on social media on Friday. Many “heartbroken” and “speechless” Twitter users shared the picture.

The mother was reportedly shot and killed by poachers for her “double horns”, in the South Africa’s Kruger National Park. The one-month-old baby rhino was spared because he was “too young to have horns”. He was, however, attacked with machetes.

According to the South Lakes Safari Zoo’s website: “Poachers had brutally hacked off both of mum’s horns and, as the calf’s instinct to protect her and stay as close as possible kicked in, had lashed out with their machetes, seriously injuring the calf’s back and his right foot. Rhino calves are born without a horn so he wasn’t of interest to the poachers.”

The baby rhino refused to leave his mother’s side after she was killed. He was taken to a nearby rhino orphanage called the Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary and was named Arthur, for his bravery and courage.

Arthur’s story went viral after South Lakes Safari Zoo in Dalton recently pledged their support to raise money for his rehabilitation and care.

The zoo’s website stated: “[The Rhino’s] wounds included a cut to the toe nail, splitting the nail down to the nail bed, and a four-inch machete gash to his back, slicing through his cartilage, dangerously close to his spine. His wounds were cleaned and bandaged and his deep back wound stitched up.”

Online users were furious when the pictures started doing the rounds.

Tweep @adamtafazoli posted: “We have so much to learn when it comes to respecting this planet! How can people still do this? #sad #savetheplanet.”

While Twitter user @StvnNgm reached out to Disney and posted: “There’s need for greater awareness on the barbarism of poaching and its threat to the extinction of so many animal species. Hey @DisneyStudios the Lion King was a classic, but it’d be ingenious if you could create a “G” rated spin-off to highlight the vileness of these ghastly acts.”

@tiachocgirl urged world leaders to “come together” to protect rhinos and elephants from harm. She tweeted: “There needs to be thousands of rangers, to have any chance of protecting rhinos and elephants from being poached. Why can’t the worlds countries come together and do this?”

Many called the attack “shameless” and “inhumane”.

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF): “Very few rhinos survive outside national parks due to persistent poaching and habitat loss over many decades.”

In Africa, the southern white rhinos are ‘near threatened’. After more than a century of protection and management, 19,600 – 21,000 animals exist in protected areas and private game reserves. There are only three northern white rhino individuals left on earth - all of them in captivity.

The South Lakes Safari Zoo has a page dedicated to Arthur. According to an article on the page: “Arthur still calls out for his Mum, a sound that breaks the heart of his human caregivers. Arthur will be emotionally scarred for a long time – long after his physical wounds have healed. He has a long road to full recovery ahead but with your support and help he, and other orphans like him, will get there!”