Rhino Thandi & Themba DAY 15 - 17h00

16Mar
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Thandi had joined up with the other rhino again by late yesterday so doesn't appear to have been outwardly affected by her procedure. The monitoring team report that Themba has moved away from his hollow and has been grazing well on the edge of the thicket line. He passed dung and has had water during the past 24 hours. These parameters were what we were worried about in the two days leading up to yesterdays procedures so are positive signs. The pain killers we gave him yesterday will be wearing off now and we don't want to give him more unless we absolutely have to. All the indications based on his condition under anaesthetic were that his system is very run down, his blood pressure was low and I am very worried about the capacity of his vital organs to handle the battering they are taking. The next 24 hours should give us an indication if he is able to sustain himself without anti-inflammatory/pain killers. If his eating and activity reduce we will have to go back onto them at the risk of damage, especially his kidneys.

We continue to source as much input from other vets regarding the best way forward for them. I have have consulted daily with different vets who have had experience of rhino wounds which is highly valued from a professional point of view. The other noticeable aspect of the process so far is how much it is affecting people from all over the world with skills and experience not usually utilised by vets in the field. This has been a very humbling experience as it brings home the importance of these beautiful animals and the way they have crept into peoples hearts.

As Thandi appears to have turned the corner, we are starting to build on a treatment plan to try and re-construct her face as much as possible. At this stage it seems impossible to establish a full skin cover over her facial wounds but I can promise we will do everything we can to give her the best possible chance of doing so. As mentioned before much of this is new territory in the treatment of rhino and we will consider every avenue we can think of. We have already had Dr Glynn Catton arrange for an artificial skin product to be sent down to us in the hope that it can make a difference during the healing process. This coming week a human re-constructive surgeon, Dr Alistair Lamont has offered to fly up from Cape Town to consider their condition and start applying his mind to what could possibly be done during the months ahead. Given the extensive experience that surgeons have in re-habilitating human injuries, I expect to be able to learn much from shared knowledge for Themba and Thandi and for the benefit of future victims of these poaching atrocities.

The contrast between what man is capable of in terms of both pain and wellfare is staggering. It is a sobering reminder of the power we possess in the choices we make. We have been given custodianship over all species on this planet. Our legacy lies entrenched in whether we choose to turn a blind eye to this level of suffering or whether we choose to do something about it. You, like me, have a choices to make.

Will Fowlds

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