Rhino Thandi & Themba DAY 6 - 20h00

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News of Thandi (the female) is that she appeared from the thickets this evening and is grazing and exhibiting what, from a distance, appears to be normal rhino behaviour. I have such admiration for this incredibly brave soul. Having had my fingers buried in her facial wounds down to my knuckles, I find it hard to believe that she can be walking around, alert and responsive to her surroundings. The fact that she appears to be doing so well should mean that in the next two or three days we can start on the next phase of her treatment which is going to be traumatic in itself. She has a shelf of bone (panga slash) about 15mm thick and 100mm wide still partially attached by connective tissue that I don't think will survive and may have to be removed with a saw down to viable bone. We are also going to have to put her through what many 3rd degree burn victims have to endure which is a process of debriding whereby dead and dying cells need to be scrubbed off under anaesthetic so that a clean bed of healing tissue can get established. Sadly this may have to be repeated several times. As bad as it sounds, nothing she still has to get through can compare with what she has already conquered. The road ahead is long and threatened by complications such as infection but if her fighting spirit over these first six days is an indication of her inner strength, we have a good chance of seeing her through. Themba has been in hiding today and the monitoring team were not able to get a visual confirmation of his status. We were not planning treatment today so haven't push hard to find him. His behaviour in contrast to Thandi is very much one of a rhino in distress. Tomorrow (day 7) is very much a make or break day for him in my mind.

Will Fowlds

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