Rhino Thandi & Themba DAY 14 - 14h00

15Mar
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They’re alive! Both Themba and Thandi continue to fight for their lives at Kariega. Thandi is simply inspirational ! The way she is moving around the reserve indicates her position in the recovery process is improving every day. We found her running with a female and calf which we dehorned the other day so she is socially intergrating again which is a very positive sign. Her face is also showing some good signs of progress. The maggot infestation is much improved and the level of infection has reduced around her facial injuries. Under anaesthetic she was stable and we were able to do some aggressive cleaning down to the exposed bone.

Themba is such a brave fighter.

We tend to forget that in our terms he is only a boy, not even a teenager at four rhino years old. His courage against enormous odds continues to amaze us. We found him in the little hollow next to the beautiful water hole that he has been at for the past 3 days now. A more tranquil and beautiful place you could never wish to find. He had grass hanging from his mouth and a fair amount of fighting spirit in him when we approached. I took this as a sign that his anaesthetic chances of survival were worth the risk and so we darted him and treated him with a barrage of medication as well as doing a hurried clean out of his wounds. His face is not getting any worse but where he had pushed mud into the nasal sinuses a large amount of decaying matter had become trapped in the cavities behind there. On the good side, his maggot infestation is much better around the face but the signs of an obvious healing response are not the same as with Thandi.

Yet again we sit with, quite literally, a life and death struggle based on his bad leg. His leg is looking a lot worse from the outside in that more areas of skin are revealing their necrotic state and there are two more drainage holes on the outside of his foot indicating a deterioration in the skin. It is still impossible to know the full extend on the internal leg injuries and the state of progress within.

There is still hope for this brave boy but he has not turned the corner and is still deteriorating where it matters most. On his recovery from this morning’s procedures he did give us a ten meter charge which was energising. We left him, surrounded by lush green grass, plenty of shade, clean water and a host of familiar birds and their peaceful calls to keep him company. The plumbago bushes stand over a meter tall framing his surroundings with the softest blue colours.

How have we allowed the lusts of men, on the other side of the planet, to invade the tranquillity of this heavenly place?

Themba and Thandi, surrounded by all we value in nature, live on as icons of animal suffering and the determination to survive. They stand guard at the door, one strong and one weak, that will lead to the demise of thousands more species because of our apathy. They are adopted, as champions of a cause which goes far beyond “Saving the Rhino” because if we don’t save the Rhino, who move us to this extent, what hope do we have of saving the rest.

Will Fowlds

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