Email from Cecile – one rhino’s heroine

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while, will know the inspirational story of Hercules, the baby rhino. If you don’t you can catch up on it in the posts Hercules, the 100 kg baby, Hercules and Brutus – an update and What a handsome fellow!

Towards the end of April, I received the following email from Cecile. She is the lady who had helped nurse and nurture Hercules back to health, and raise him to be the fine looking rhino he is today. Although there were veterinary surgeons and others helping in Hercules’ care, from what I can gather Cecile was there for him every day – and gave up many hours of her time to look after him.

A lot has been written about and said regarding the poaching of rhinos for their horns. I think it is going to take the dedication of people like Cecile to save rhinos from extinction. Although I would have loved to have seen Hercules returned to the wild, that just isn’t realistic. Being so used to and trusting of humans, he could either injure somebody or become the victim of a poacher. So living his life on a game farm in semi-captivity seems to be the best alternative. And who knows – maybe Hercules and Peanut will be the start of a new rhino breeding programme?  You can read more about existing white rhino breeding programmes in this Wikipedia article.

Here is Cecile’s email . . .

Hi Lisa

I have just read your story about Hercules on your blog and thought I should give you an update!

I am including 3 pictures. The one [first photograph below] was the day we removed Hercules from the veld to rear him by hand. Hard to believe he was weighing a mere 55 kgs. On 14 April 2012 he was 9 months old. As everyone knows he flourished on love, attention and lots of milk (between 40 and 50 liters a day at present). He is also eating Lucerne. Hercules and Brutus (his sheep buddy) were transferred together to their new and bigger boma on our farm. Because Hercules is getting bigger and heavier, he unfortunately killed Brutus during March. It was a sad day as Brutus really was a sheep with attitude and we really did not think he would survive as long as he did!

Also sending you a photo of Hercules having a mud bath. The other photo is with Peanut his new Rhino mate.

On 11 April we moved Hercules to another farm where he will grow up with another Rhino orphan, Peanut. Peanut is already a year and a half old whereas Hercules will be 10 months old on 14 May. Peanut is a cow and hopefully they will eventually have babies of their own in the distant future. I went to visit Hercules last Sunday and he is a very happy chappy and he will be released in the veld with Peanut next week.

It was absolutely a pleasure and honour to rear Hercules and an experience I never dreamed of going through and all the money in the world cannot buy. Thanks to all the Rhino friends out there!



Sad to read about Brutus’ death. When I wrote the post What a handsome fellow! we did not know what had happened to Brutus and just assumed he had been removed from Hercules’ enclosure.

30 July 2011 – the day that Hercules was rescued from the veld. Emaciated and with sores and infections, it was a heartbreaking sight.

September 2011 – Cecile feeding baby Hercules one of his many daily meals. ©WMB/

Less than a year later, this is Hercules now . . .

4 Apr 2012 – A much sturdier and healthier Hercules having a mud-bath.

And in his new home with Peanut (a female rhino) . . .

Hercules (in foreground) with in his new permanent home with new friend, Peanut

Thanks to Cecile for the update and the photographs. I am in awe of how you put your own life on hold to raise Hercules!


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Categories: Nature/Environment, Random


I live on the Southern coast of South Africa, and write about the things that interest, amuse or inspire me. You can find me at and (my photoblog)


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29 Comments on “Email from Cecile – one rhino’s heroine”

  1. May 9, 2012 at 10:44 am #

    Great post and thanks for the update. That first photo really is heartbreaking and it’s amazing to see how Hercules has progressed. But…poor Brutus!

  2. May 9, 2012 at 11:30 am #

    Always love a happy ending. Well for Hercules anyway!

    • May 10, 2012 at 7:03 am #

      LOL I wonder if Hercules knows he killed Brutus? And how it happened? With his weight he could probably just lean against a sheep and kill it.

      • May 10, 2012 at 8:05 am #

        I know- I really want to know what happened! I hope it was an accident because I like him so much. Probably just playing around and “oops- got you with my tusk- it`s always gettin in the way… hey- you ok?” If he were a hippo on the other hand I`d say he definitely did it on purpose….

      • May 10, 2012 at 8:43 am #

        Yeah, hippos are meanies! Rosie (our dog) has a build like a rhino, and I’m always worried she’s going to squash the cat. She and the cat nap and play together.

      • Cecile Engelbrecht-Greyling
        May 10, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

        Hi Lisa and friends
        Thanks for all the compliments. I cannot take all the credit myself as it was a combined effort. I am just fortunate to be staying on our farm permanently. Brutus the sheep-mate was not feeling well a couple of days prior to being killed by Hercules. Hercules, even as a baby, does not realise how strong he is (especially compared to his wooley mate). Lots of times Hercules was the one being chased by Brutus! Because Brutus was not feeling his usual self, he could not get out of Hercules’ way during play-time and he got squashed against the boma. Once he was down, I think the wild animal instinct took over and Brutus died. Hercules was definitely very moody thereafter for a couple of days and I even had to skip giving him his mud bath.

        Hopefully Peanut, his new mate, will teach him better Rhino manners than us humans can. They will have to be at least 8 to 10 years old before they can have a baby. It souds like forever! Love, Cecile

      • May 10, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

        Hi Cecile!

        Thanks for leaving a comment, and clearing up the mystery of what exactly happened to Brutus. I think Hercules’ has literally met his match in Peanut – she looks like a sturdy girl who has the weight and strength to handle him!

        From what I’ve seen in the photos and heard from people on the farm, you gave Hercules’ the motherly nurturing he really needed to recover. It’s people like you who really make a difference.


  3. May 9, 2012 at 11:32 am #

    Love this post! How wonderful to hear that Hercules is flourishing – and about to be released with a MATE too! I couldn’t help giggling at the name ‘Peanut’ – even at a year-and-a-half, she looks HUGE.

    Wow, Cecile, you are an incredible woman. I hope that the two will be safe – and that they will have lots of little baby Peanuts and Hercules for many, many years to come.

    • May 10, 2012 at 7:05 am #

      Peanut is a funny name. Maybe given to her when she was much smaller? I am totally in awe of Cecile. She said she would keep visiting Hercules – and hopefully taking photographs of him as he reaches adulthood.

  4. May 9, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

    Thanks for the update, Lisa. So sorry to hear about Brutus, however. Glad, however, that Hercules has a new friend.

    Hope the weather has begun cooling off and you are feeling better.


    • May 10, 2012 at 7:07 am #

      Hi Kathy! Thanks for reading my post and leaving a comment. I feel very bad about not keeping up with all my blog reading, but I hope that will change as winter approaches here. I’m already having some better days.

  5. May 10, 2012 at 12:00 am #

    what a lovely story!!

    • May 10, 2012 at 7:08 am #

      Thanks for reading the post and leaving a comment! I’ve been off-line for so long, I’m amazed that I’ve still got subscribers . . . Hope you are doing well, Ellen?

      • May 10, 2012 at 11:59 am #

        You are welcome!
        I`m doing well I guess with ups and dows but ok
        How are you?

      • May 10, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

        I’m okay, but not great. Want to do more blogging again if I can.

      • May 10, 2012 at 10:04 pm #

        is your mother ok?

      • May 11, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

        Yes, she’s doing well. Is all healed after her hip replacement and walking fairly normally again. Thanks for asking!

  6. May 10, 2012 at 6:55 am #

    It is a great result for Hercules!

    • May 10, 2012 at 7:19 am #

      Hi Debra! Yes, it’s a very uplifting rhino story in the midst of all the negative rhino poaching ones. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment! 🙂

  7. Jackie Cangro
    May 11, 2012 at 6:38 pm #

    Thanks for this update, Lisa! So glad to hear that Hercules is thriving. I’m glad you’re able to bring some awareness about the terrible poaching situation rhinos in the wild are facing.

    • May 15, 2012 at 5:25 pm #

      Thanks for your comment, Jackie! There are of course other bloggers who have done a much better job of discussing the topic of rhino poaching. This was more light relief to the wholesale slaughtering of these fascinating animals.

  8. Hannah
    June 9, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

    Dear Lisa,

    I was absolutely stunned to stumble across this blog this afternoon – please tell me more about Peanut and where she is from… My husband and I raised a rhino calf we named Peanut over a year ago. We had to take her into captivity when she was already 6 months old but she was so tiny compared to another calf of a similar age and my husband, the ecologist on the reserve at the time, decided to take her in and hand rear her – her Mother was 38years old (very old for a rhino) and it was thought she was not producing enough milk. When the vet arrived to help us dart the tiny calf, he said she was the size of a 6 WEEK old. The following months involved intense hard work, building of bomas, day and night feeding of milk and eventually luscerne, cleaning, keeping warm, walking with the calf in the veld… And after all the love and care that went into her rearing, the rhino was sold to another reserve. Since then we have never heard any news of our baby Peanut or where she ended up. Please let me know if you have any information about Peanut’s history, where she came from etc. It would be wonderful to hear how she is doing. I am so excited at the idea of our Peanut having a mate, especially a hero called Hercules. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Kind regards,

    Hannah Mellet

    • June 9, 2012 at 6:50 pm #

      Hi Hannah!

      Wow. I’m am constantly amazed at the emails/comments I get from people who have personal connections to my stories. It is very possible that this Peanut is “your” Peanut, so I’m going to email you privately.

      Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving this lovely comment! 🙂


      • Hannah
        June 10, 2012 at 8:07 am #

        Good morning Lisa,

        it is great to hear from you and I am really looking forward to your reply. Please confirm my e-mail address is visible to you.
        I hope it is a little warmer that side of the country than it is here in KZN this morning…!



      • June 10, 2012 at 9:17 am #

        Hi Hannah,

        Yes, I can see your email address. Did you get the email I sent you? Might be in your spam folder if not in your Inbox.

        It’s been freezing and wet here in the Southern Cape since mid-week. I don’t mind too much – prefer cold to hot days.


  9. July 18, 2012 at 9:45 pm #

    What an amazing story! Hercules is a perfect name for that rhino.

    • July 23, 2012 at 8:20 am #

      I agree, Hercules is a good name for the handsome rhino he has grown into!

      Thanks for visiting my blog! 🙂

  10. Hannah
    July 19, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

    I agree – what a hero Hercules is, and what a handsome and strong young bull he has become! I look forward to more photos in the future!!

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