As the moon rises over the South African savannah, a young African girl called Thembile and her father, a wildlife ranger, are out patrolling through the night on horseback. They hear the heart-rending cries of a terrified rhino calf, and find him shivering beside the mutilated body of his mother. Help is summoned, but who will care for this orphan, look after him and pay for his milk and medicines?
Far away in Dubai, hearing of the calf’s plight, a school comes to the rescue and agrees to support the orphaned rhino until he is old enough to be released back into the wild. One pupil in particular is captivated by the baby rhino. George – who has recently arrived from England – is a boy with a boundless curiosity and a compassion beyond his years and, whenever he can, he watches the calf’s progress on the CCTV set up by his school and Thembile’s father. He is fascinated by the way the African girl and the rhino seem to bond as the weeks go by.
When, one afternoon, the young girl doesn’t appear at her usual time, George is convinced that she is in danger. What can have happened to her? And is the orphaned rhino in danger too? George knows something is wrong, but what can he do when he is thousands of miles away?
Ubuntu is a Bantu word made famous by Nelson Mandela, and means ‘human kindness’ or – literally – ‘human-ness’. The story of Ubuntu the rhino weaves back and forth across continents, at once heart-breaking and heart-warming. It shows how all our lives, both human and animal, are intertwined with each other and with nature, and how each one of us can make a difference to the future of the world’s last remaining rhinos.