Giving gifts

It was my husband’s birthday earlier this month. I knew exactly what to get him but I knew he’d be expecting that too. But then I found the perfect surprise gift!

I had invited Stichting Painted Dog Conservation to participate in the Connecting Women Christmas Bazaar last December. With their table of goods carefully laid out, I was immediately drawn to a snare art sculpture. This particular sculpture, the original snare collected by the anti-poaching patrol in Hwange National Park and made into art by the craft centre at the Painted Dog Conservation centre in Zimbabwe, was a rhino.

If you followed my posts on Facebook about Maalim, you will understand the connection.

For those that didn’t, let me briefly explain.

Maalim was an orphaned black rhino, rescued by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) in 2008. He was born prematurely and was a tiny little thing when he was rescued. His story captured my heart and I fostered him for my husband’s birthday last year. It was the perfect gift. The following month, during a visit to Kenya, we met little Maalim and all his elephant and rhino friends at the orphanage in Nairobi. You can read about our experience here. The DSWT is a very special place, the work they do is amazing; all of the orphaned elephants and rhinos, after years of care by the orphanage during their milk-dependant stage, return to the wild.

Our orphaned rhino, Maalim, became ill last year, and struggled with chronic pneumonia. He gave a good fight but unfortunately, he didn’t survive it. Writing this still makes my nose tingle. We were so very sad to hear the news that Maalim had passed away. It was peaceful and without pain; and he was sleeping under his beloved mattress. It still brings tears to my eyes to think of him. To think how many lives this little rhino touched, is incredible. He was loved by many, all around the world.

We received news that our fostering had been transferred to Solio, a little 6 month old rhino who had joined the nursery just a few weeks previously. We can’t wait to meet her!

As my husband had predicted, I renewed our fostering of Solio for his birthday. And for the snare art… it was a complete surprise, and a perfect one.

To Maalim and Solio, with love x


  1. Vinita

    Sweet and beautiful!

  2. Natalie

    Thank you, Vinita! :-)


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