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Kariega Game Reserve - Thandi the rhino is pregnant!


Baby Rhino May 2012 Kariega Game Reserve (2)

Pictured above: Zimela, born May 2012. 

Survivor of a horrific poaching attack in March 2012 at Kariega Game Reserve South Africa is going to be a mother

This week we mourn the great life of our nation's father, Nelson Mandela. People from around the world will forever be inspired by his strength and courage in the fight for what is right. As we remember this man of hope, Kariega Game Reserve has received the great news that Thandi the rhino is pregnant. Although this may be a small step toward winning the fight against poaching, we remember Madiba's words, "It always seems impossible until it's done."

Although it is a time of great loss, we invite you to celebrate the incredible life of Mandela and of Thandi's miraculous recovery, and draw great inspiration, courage and strength to fight for what is right.

Thandi's pregnancy

Wildlife vet Dr William Fowlds, who has been by Thandi's side since she was poached in March 2012, provided us with information on Thandi's pregnancy results:

Kariega Game Reserve is most pleased to announce that recent blood results reveal Thandi is pregnant! Wildlife vet Dr William Fowlds, who has been by Thandi's side since she was poached in March 2012 comments: 

"During the last facial procedure we added another blood profile to her routine tests which we have been running from the beginning courtesy of IDEXX Laboratories. This time, with fingers crossed, we requested a progesterone assay which measures the hormone that is generated in increasing amounts during pregnancy. The results, a mere 3.9 parts per billion of her blood are enough to indicate that she is towards the end of her first trimester of pregnancy. 

"I don’t recall such a small value carrying such huge significance for anything in my professional life. Thandi is arguably the single most important rhino alive as I am not aware of any individual animal that has carried the plight of the rhino out to the world to the extent that she has and continues to do. Her story has touched the lives of so many people across the globe and her courage is reflected in our love for her and the species that she represents. The prospects of a successful pregnancy and birth represent the hope of survival. In a crisis which threatens us with despair, that hope, as insignificant as it may seem for some, is what we cling to for dear life." 

Foundation patron and Kariega co-owner Graeme Rushmere comments “This is incredible news, a real miracle if the tests are correct. Thandi having a calf will be a real reward for her courage and everyone’s unbelievable efforts in saving her and hoping that she is able to lead a normal and peaceful rhino life after her horrific ordeal. She has been an amazing ambassador for rhino and for the many dedicated people fighting the war to end rhino poaching. We are simply delighted.”

Rhino Conservation and births at Kariega Game Reserve

The Kariega Foundation Save the Rhino fund was initially set up to help provide the best possible treatment to poaching survivors Thandi and Themba. Although we lost Themba and another unnamed bull as a result of the poaching incident, it is our hope and ambition that Thandi be allowed to live a normal rhino life in the wild. In line with this, a new bull was recently purchased to replace the two bulls we lost and to further promote breeding on the reserve. We were very pleased when the new bull and Thandi were spotted mating by some of the rangers and have had our fingers crossed for the best possible outcome. 

Poaching statistics continue to increase revealing just how serious and dangerous the situation is for our worlds rhino population. While we continue to improve our efforts to protect the rhino on our reserve, Kariega Game Reserve has also been honoured with the birth of two rhino calves in the last year. Shortly after three rhino were poached on the reserve in March 2012, a calf was born in May (pictured below). As we commemorated the lost lives and the struggle of the unnamed bull and Themba (Hope) we were given new hope by the birth of Zimela (meaning ‘to be protected’).

Baby Rhino May 2012 Kariega Game Reserve (1)

Zimela (meaning 'to be protected') pictured above was born in May 2012.

Thandi spends most of her time in the company of one of the other rhino cows on the reserve and we were delighted when Thandi’s female companion gave birth to a beautiful calf in March this year – almost exactly one year after the 2012 poaching incident. The calf (pictured below with Thandi, both caked in mud!) was fathered by either Themba or the unnambed bull lost to the poaching. 

The gestation period of white rhino's is between 15 and 16 months. If Thandi is somewhere in her first trimester she will probably have the calf in around a years time. Thandi is over 10 years old. If all goes well this will be her third calf. 

Thandi Nov 2013 Kariega Game Reserve South Africa B Jennings

Female white rhino calf born in March 2013 spends time with Thandi. 

It is our sincerest hope that these two calves as well as Thandi's unborn will go on to spend long and peaceful lives on the reserve, having many of their own calves and contributing to a healthy white rhino population in southern Africa. 

What can you do to help? 

To find out more about rhino conservation at Kariega Game Reserve or contribute please visit the Kariega Foundation Save the Rhino page here