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For Rhino in a Shrinking World: Inspired by Thandi

Jone Haesslich
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Three-Years-on from Tragic Rhino Poaching at Kariega

We are continually buoyed by how Thandi’s amazing recovery and the birth of her calf Thembi (four months old today!) has fueled public passion for this species and motivated people from far flung places to get actively involved in helping to save the rhino. Our sincere thanks to everyone who has, and continues to fight for our rhino.

For Rhino in a Shrinking World: Inspired by Thandi

The international poetry anthology For Rhino in a Shrinking World is Harry Owen’s contribution to raise awareness about the horror of rhino poaching through the words of some of the world’s best and most generous-spirited poets. It is illustrated by renowned South African artist Sally Scott. All work is donated by the artists free of charge.


Thank you to Harry Owen for the following comments and for allowing us to publish his poem for Thandi titled "What love really is."

"Thandi not only still lives but has, against all the odds, become a mother. These two world-famous rhinos, Thandi and her calf, now represent real hope for the future of this wonderful creature and are a magnificent justification of the unwavering efforts of Dr Will Fowlds and the Kariega team. 

It is with genuine pride that I can report that the anthology For Rhino in a Shrinking World is dedicated thus: For all those rhinos so cruelly slaughtered in the pursuit of human ignorance and greed and for Thandi, who survived.

In early 2012, as part of a rapidly growing criminal poaching campaign in Africa and Asia, three white rhinos were attacked and savagely mutilated for their horn at Kariega Game Reserve, near Grahamstown in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. The animals suffered appalling injuries and were left to bleed slowly to death.

Dr William Fowlds, a noted wildlife veterinarian, was called to treat them but one rhino died at the scene and there was little hope extended for the other two. As a result, however, of Dr Fowlds’s care and professional attention, one animal survived for three weeks before tragically drowning in a water hole, and the other – Thandi, whose name means ‘Love’ in isiXhosa – miraculously still lives more than three years later and has gradually recovering from her trauma.

All proceeds from the sale of this beautiful volume go, via the Chipembere Rhino Foundation, to support the work of fighting poaching and protecting our gravely threatened natural heritage.

Some of the international poets whose work is represented include (amongst many others): Shabbir Banoobhai, Kerry Hammerton, Lesego Rampolokeng, Mxolisi Nyezwa, Rosemund Handler, Geoffrey Haresnape, Chris Mann, Dan Wylie, Phillippa Yaa de Villiers & Joan Metelerkamp (South Africa); Geraldine Green, Sheenagh Pugh, John Lindley, Pascale Petit, Pippa Little, Kate Noakes & Jennifer Wong (UK); Adam Tavel, J.D. Smith, Veronica Golos, David Mallett, Alfred Corn & Hélène Cardona (USA); Chloë Callistemon, Nola Firth, Lorne Johnson, Andy Kissane & Philip Neilsen (Australia); as well as superb poets from Ireland, Canada, India, Zimbabwe, Greece, Iceland, Luxembourg, Germany, Botswana, Nigeria, France and The Netherlands.

What Love Really Is
(for Thandi)

Once in a while the world smiles,
and muck sinks to the bottom where
those so inclined can keep on
gorging themselves, leaving others
content. Every now and then
purely joy matters, tenderness
grows in the trees, unpicking our
dreams to broadcast a tincture
of each mind upon the air.
On odd days like these we learn
to distinguish our own features.

A butchered white rhino gives birth
to a calf that by rights ought
never to have been. A mother
whose name must mean courage,
must mean honour, mean strength,
whose devastated face
points to me, you, us,
our wounded bleeding earth,
our wrecked and hornless impotence,
invites us once more to see
and recognise our lives.

For – once in a while – the world smiles.
This time, yes, a rhino
has raised us to become who we are.

She is Thandi, defaced, whose name,
like her heart, means love.

Harry Owen