Visual sightings of Thandi confirm that she is eating and moving around normally. We still do not have good images of her face so difficult to be sure of her condition but I am comfortable that we can maintain low levels of concern for her.
Themba on the other hand has not been moving around very much. He remains close to a large water hole and has been eating although not as much as he was 3 days ago. He has spent some time with his leg in the muddy water and knowing how many open spaces there are in his bad leg, I shudder to think what has gone into that leg. In my experience of other wild animals it is quite common for them to bathe in muddy water without any apparent concern for wound contamination. From a medical perspective this makes me cringe but I have witnessed some surprising recoveries so it may not be as bad as what we perceive.
After being very proud of a surgical procedure I did once on an elephants eye and the degree of care we had taken to work under sterile conditions, I had a report the next day to say that he was standing in the water hole scooping up mud with his trunk and rubbing it into his bad eye! That elephant whose eye I considered removing, recovered so well that a year later I couldn’t tell which eye I had operated on.
My levels of concern for Themba today are high. The results of his blood tests will only be available in another day or two for comparison with previous tests. These will be very important is assessing his chances especially if his levels of activity, eating and drinking behaviour have not improved by the end of tomorrow.
As always, we have been overwhelmed by your messages of encouragement which mean so much to me and I know the whole team at Kariega are sustained by your words and your efforts to help Themba and Thandi . I wish I could show these rhino how many people right across the world are willing them to get well, it would take a stadium to fit us all in. Your actions in spreading the word of their plight it starting to ripple across the planet. I know that there are already students in China who have been exposed to the video footage and are as appalled as we are. This is such encouraging news as the one aspect of the rhino fight we have been bad at has been reaching into the user countries. Please don’t underestimate the power of these images in your hands and what they can achieve in our quest to protect all rhino.
As the decision makers in global conservation plan to meet again to discuss what can be done to reduce the killing, we need to keep driving hard at the most fundamental layers of this war namely welfare, awareness and education. The owners of Kariega gave me two directives at the start of this process, firstly to do whatever I thought best for Themba and Thandi and secondly, regardless of the outcome of either of them, to ensure that this process would be to the benefit of all remaining rhino.
Kariega have been amazing in making all treatment and images freely available for use across the world. Themba and Thandi have been even more amazing in showing us their determination to live. What we learn about these horrific wounds will certainly change the way we approach future cases such as this and with your help improve the chances of many other rhino in the future. Often it takes a crisis in life before we appreciate the things that are important to us. Will this rhino crisis teach us what’s of value in the world? Will we show ourselves that even though we face great odds, we will fight our way through this crisis, and be stronger when we face the next one.
Your response shows me that there are enough of us to beat the criminals. Let’s show them that enough IS enough.