A rhino in my garden
Love, life and the African bush
Conita Walker tells the story of the love match that lured her from the world of international air travel to plunge, somewhat naively, into the life of a conservationist. It is a tale of adventure, mishaps, humour and heartbreak. Conita’s life begins on a remote missionary station; she survives the WWII bombing of Berlin, witnesses the defeat of political systems in both Europe and South Africa, and eventually finds her true mission in the rescue and hand-rearing of black and white rhino orphans. There was a baby hippo to rescue and re-wild too, conservation organisations to found and support, wilderness battles to fight, but it was the rhinos that became her life’s work. Her first male calf, named Bwana, was raised in her back garden, followed by a female hippo calf who grew up in her washroom, and eventually returned to the Palala River and has produced numerous offspring. The supreme test of her mothering skills was the raising of a very seriously injured black rhino female named Moeng who was saved in the nick of time by the dedicated work of veterinarian Dr Andre Uys. This rhino calf, along with her predecessor ‘siblings’, were to be viewed up close by thousands of school children who came to Conita’s garden while attending the environmental school nearby.