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Rhino Thandi DAY 26

Jone Haesslich
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As we direct all our energy into the care of Thandi, the tributes to Themba and the wonderful Kariega team just pour in. We are completely overwhelmed by the comments we have received and I must hasten to add here how important it is to realise that I am just one of many dedicated people who have thrown themselves selflessly at this task. In fact I only spend a fraction of my time on Kariega compared to the rest of the team. Most of what I do for these rhino is on the phone and behind a laptop, something all of you are able to do too.

Kariega rangers sent me fresh images of Thandi today which are packed with information that is very valuable in our planning for the next phase of treatment.

We are processing the information we have learned from Themba, including blood samples which were taken less than 24 hours before he died as this tells us so much about what we need to be modifying in Thandi’s treatment plan. For example, the extent of muscle damage across the left side of Themba is very likely to have been mirrored in Thandi as she too lay for as long on her left side, possibly taking even more pressure on her ribs as we look back on the video images of day 1. It still amazes me, as I look at her most recent photo. What a walking miracle she is.

Comparative blood tests from Day 9, which give us an idea of acute muscle damage showed that Themba had a reading of 7715 (normal range between 60- 1074) as against Thandi who had a reading of 1212. Both of these would have been higher than this in the days leading up to these tests.

Each blood sample taken had 31 different tests processed from it as well as other microscopic evaluations but in spite of this information, combined with observation, visual and photographic interpretations and hands on evaluation when we could, there were gaps in the information required to accurately assess everything. The challenge now is to find additional means to tell us what really goes on under that thick skin so that we can improve the chances of getting survivors back to health or end their suffering confident that they would not have made it even if we tried.

So, in spite of Themba’s passing, we still continue to learn from him as his serum samples have been sent away for electrophoresis (CZE). Prof Reyers is going to continue assisting us with his vast experience in clinical pathology and Themba will be the yard sick against which we measure Thandi’s parameters now that we understand the full extent of his injuries.

Des who is assisting Kariega with social media, posted official stats yesterday, provided by facebook, showing that through this channel alone over 45 000 people have followed the tragedy of Themba and Thandi. What is staggering is that if every one of us who have followed this story, shared it with all our facebook friends, we would potentially reach over 900 000 people. Many people ask me how they can make a difference in this war to save the rhino. My answer is always, awareness comes first, then worry about the rest.

The story of three precious rhino who enjoyed life side by side in the green grass of paradise. Three of God’s creation who’s bond with one another allowed poachers to butcher them one after the other. Three magnificent rhino with three very different stories. Who among us, will give up just a fraction of our day to expose their story to the world. Even one more minute to post/forward/share or comment in honour of what they have gone through. These three victims have given us new ammunition to use in fighting this war. Ammunition which we choose to use passively, but which will change minds effectively. Our hearts and minds have been impacted by the reality of their suffering. In a war fought on many fronts, YOU have the ability to make an impact in the battle to win over the hearts and minds of inconsiderate man.

As you read this remember you have the same tools in your hands as I have tonight. You may not be making the bullets but you certainly have the ability to fire the guns.

Will Fowlds