On the 2nd of March 2012 one cow and two bull rhino’s were poached at Kariega Game Reserve. Tragically, one bull died during the course of the night, whilst the remaining two were severely injured, but showed an incredible will to survive. For 24 days a dedicated wildlife team worked to give the surviving rhinos the best possible care and chance for recovery. Their bravery was unbelievable, and inspired our Kariega rangers to nickname them Thandiswa and Themba, two isiXhosa names meaning courage and hope. Sadly Themba (Hope) passed away on the morning of the 25 of March 2012. Since then we have continued to work with Thandi (Love) who is now fully recovered.
One year on, we continue to be inspired by Thandi's incredible fighting spirit and miraculous recovery. We would like to thank all those who have supported Kariega Game Reserve and our rhino's. We have been overwhelmed by your moral and financial generosity. Our dedicated Kariega Foundation fund for the rehabilitation and care of our rhino's, particularly Thandi, continues to receive generous donations from around the world. We are truly grateful. We invite you to come and visit us to see these beautiful, gentle, prehistoric-looking creatures. We know if you have experienced African wildlife that you will be more passionate to help us conserve it.
The story of Thandi and Themba is part of the much broader issue of rhino poaching – an issue which we cannot fight alone. Kariega actively supports the Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative of the Wilderness Foundation and the Rhino Project of the Endangered Wildlife Trust. Both are incredible organisations which have our full trust and support in all their commendable endeavors toward saving the rhino.
We loved this tribute to our rhino's sent to us by our Facebook fan Tanja West.
A special tribute...
A year ago - that fateful day
There - in their own pool of blood they would lay
Thandi, Themba and another beautiful unnamed giant who roamed this earth
To the poachers who attacked them - they sadly did not have any worth!
The young bull lost his life that same terrible night
And for Thandi and Themba a team with a lot of dedication began to fight
We saw photos of poor Thandi suffering to get onto her feet
And Themba, our gentle soul, could not even find the strength to eat…
This team was fighting day and night
Trying to heal, to get what went so horribly wrong…. somehow right
Thandi recovered, very little at a time
While poor Themba's condition did not show a good sign...
Fighting for him to survive - to heel his badly-wounded leg and his face
And watching with worry at his slow recovery pace
Dr William Fowlds and the Team Kariega
Kept guarding you from the ground and by helicopter
On March 25, the sad discovery in the early hours of the day
Themba, our boy, sadly passed away
He tried to get out of the water and just did not have the strength
He just sank to the ground
And there in the pool of water he drowned…
A sad day, and a picture imprinted in our head
Sitting next to him, a person, who was so immensely sad…
Seeing the pain in his eyes… this photo travelled the world via the net
A scene that no one will ever forget!!!
Themba, you are gone and we all were in pain
For you lost your life for greed and for wealthy gain
You are a hero in all our hearts…
A token of HOPE that will never part!
And Thandi kept going - with this special team on call around the clock
Some days we were so happy, and some photos gave us quite a shock!
To realise what needed to happen for you to survive
And to make a complete recovery and again have a free Rhino-life..
Jason watched you and did not leave your side
Which was not always easy as you would go and hide!
Dr Fowlds was crawling through bushes to get a glimpse of you near…
A very close encounter one time, oh dear!
But you had a look from 10 meters and then walked away
Did you feel that this person was helping you on that fateful day?
The Onderstepoort, the Kariega Team and Dr Fowlds were there and treated non-stop
And slowly our girl recovered and got to the top!
While the world watched and knows exactly who you are
You raised the awareness amongst people who are near and who are far!
We all know that our Rhinos need us and yes, very fast
It is our duty to make sure that they will not become the past!
May we remember all our fallen beauties today
Your memory is with us - this for all Rhino-warriors I can say!
Thandi, our Special Star…
Your courage, your spirit and Themba's "HOPE" will get us far…
Thank you to all you special Rhino-warriors out there
It cannot always be easy, you also at times are in despair…
We thank you all for your dedication and drive
To fight for, to heal and have strong hands to keep our Rhinos alive!
We will speak where our Rhinos cannot talk
We will make sure that you, our Rhinos on this earth may walk
May you always roam our land
And may we see your footprints forever in our sand..
Read more about the story of Thandi and Themba on our blog.