Harare – Zimbabwe’s best-known orphan rhino Tatenda, the star of a TV documentary, has died suddenly at the age of nine, the game park he lived on confirmed on Friday.
Imire Rhino and Wildlife Conservation said in a post to Facebook: “Our hearts are broken as we mourn Tatenda and his life… RIP our darling boy.”
“Tendi was a symbol of hope for his species, for Imire and for the world and he instilled a love for rhino in the thousands that met him,” Imire added.
It’s not clear why he died.
Tatenda’s story was beamed around the world when poachers killed his mother and three other black rhinos on the game park in November 2007. He was only six weeks old.
Overcome by the horror of what had happened, Imire owner Judy Travers has since said that she lived in a sleeping bag beside him for the next month, bottle-feeding him. He then moved into the Travers’ family house, sometimes even sleeping on a bed. His story was shown in the Animal Planet documentary “There’s a Rhino in My House.”
Condolences are coming in from those who knew Tatenda and his story.
Wrote Rachel Miller on Facebook: “My heart breaks for the Imire family. I saw ‘a Rhino in my house’ when I was young and am so grateful to have fulfilled my dream to meet him as an adult.
“When I volunteered at Imire, every morning I would have my coffee, take Tendy an apple and would marvel at his absolute magnificence,” she added.
Johnny Rodrigues of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force wrote: “Heartbroken my nephew passed away tatenda R.I.P my condolences to the travers i am going to miss him badly.”