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Rhino Thandi & Themba DAY 9 - 16h00

Jone Haesslich
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It has been a dramatic day at Kariega. Having set out with the possibility of loosing Themba, we ended emotionally drained but relieved that they are both still alive. We all find it so difficult to get used to the gruesome extent of their injuries and the senslesness behind them, that every procedure is an emotionally jarring one for the whole team. But how can we possibly conceive what Themba and Thandi are going through. Today we got a better understanding of the extent of Themba's leg injuries as nine days after the poaching, the tissues that were starved of blood are now apparent.This tells a story of nine days of hell. Every breath and every step adding to the constant level of pain. The resilience and bravery of these conservation icons is such a humbling thing to witness.Themba has a semi circle of dead skin behind his knee where it folds when flexed. We estimate he lay on that leg for between 3 and 10 hours after his face was hacked to pieces. The underlying muscles have also been badly affected by the same process but the good news is that these areas still have a good blood supply and they have already forced their own draining sinuses out through the dead skin. We have enlarged these holes to encourage drainage and the antibiotics and pain releaving drugs will provide support from the inside.Both their faces are plagued by maggots which have found their way into every possible recess in spite of treatment on day four. This is now of major concern and will need more frequent attention at the risk of negative side effects.Today's procedures took place with the aid of a large team of dedicated people. My partner, Dr Peter Brothers, helped spread the veterinary responsibilities and I counted nine separate teams all with focused tasks to fulfil during different stages of the procedures. This excludes the journalists and camera crews who were there to tell the world the story of incredible bravery and a will to survive under conditions of exceptional trauma. I feel very privileged to have worked with such passionate people.Today we served at the feet of giants. These two, like so many others, have been humiliated by greed and mans inadequacies. Surely a creature unequalled in all of creation deserves better than this.

Will Fowlds