Mokopane - Moving home is stressful for anyone -- and rhinoceroses are no exception. Vets in South Africa have just transferred more than 30 orphaned young rhinos to a sanctuary designed to keep the animals safe from poachers who killed their mothers. The move took six weeks and required extraordinary planning, including the help of animal friends who accompanied the orphans. “We can’t just move them all at the same time and go ‘boom, there’s a new home’,” said Yolande van der Merwe, who oversees their new home. “You have to take it on very carefully because they’re sensitive animals,” she said. Van der Merwe, 40, manages the Rhino Orphanage, which cares for calves orphaned by poachers, rehabilitates them and then releases them back into the wild. This month, after its old lease expired, the non-profit moved to bigger premises, in a secret location between game farms in the northern province of Limpopo.

Benji, a white calf who is only a few months old was the last rhino to relocate.

At birth, rhinos are small, not higher than an adult human knee, and tip the scales at around 20 kilogrammes (44 pounds).

But they eat a lot and quickly pick up weight, ballooning up to half a tonne in their first year of life.

Given Benji’s recent loss, staff were worried he would freak out during the process that saw him anaesthetised and loaded in the back of a 4x4.

But thankfully Benji’s friend, Button the sheep, was by his side throughout the move -- and his presence helped ensure that everything went smoothly.

“Mostly, their mothers have been poached,” said Pierre Bester, a 55-year-old veterinarian who has been involved with the orphanage since its founding 10 years ago.

“(They) all come here, and you handle them differently... you put them in crèches, give them a friend and then they cope.”