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Ten Year Anniversary of Thandi’s Poaching


Today marks the ten-year anniversary of Thandi’s poaching. A day that we will never forget.

So much has happened in these ten years, starting with Kariega Game Reserve and Dr Fowlds grappling over how to save Thandi and then followed by the relentless efforts of many people to piece her back together and support her healing process. Thandi rewarded these monumental efforts by producing four calves to date and she is still going strong!

Thandi’s remarkable story has given us the courage to speak about the brutality of poaching because it has a happy ending. With the birth of each of her calves we have had the opportunity to remind the world that this is not the norm. Usually, animals that are poached are left completely mutilated to die very painful deaths alone in the wilderness. Thandi’s hornless profile is a compelling reminder of what is happening to our wildlife the world over and must be stopped.

Thandi's hornless profile taken at Kariega by Brendon Jennings.jpg

Thandi’s story is a powerful example of the success that can be achieved through collaboration and collective efforts.

So many individuals and organisations have contributed to Thandi’s story and supported the Kariega Foundation's conservation, community, and anti-poaching efforts. There are simply too many to mention each by name. Today, we hope you all feel the fullness of our appreciation and a sense of pride in what we have accomplished together.

Dr William Fowlds beautifully expressed our collective sentiments:

“I am full of admiration and inspiration for this amazing animal. The fact we can celebrate her life ten years after someone tried to take it is phenomenal. Thandi, you have been astonishing! We salute you.”

Thandi taking a moment to rest at kariega.JPG

Support Global Rhino Conservation Efforts

While Thandi's story is one of success, her species is still critically endangered and suffering the atrocities of poaching every day. As a result of Thandi, the Kariega Foundation has had the opportunity to partner with a number of organisations to create opportunities for people to support rhino conservation at Kariega Game Reserve and globally.

Our numerous and diverse projects flow from our core motives to protect, preserve and educate . The focus of the Kariega Foundation is to reform that which threatens the balance of our natural world and build a conservation community that works collectively to rejuvenate our planet, people and wildlife, with a particular focus on the rhino.

It will take a global village of dedicated, selfless and courageous people to save the a species. 

If you are inspired by Thandi's story we invite you to join our conservation community and walk with us in our efforts to protect and preserve the rhino species. This blog details some of the ways in which you can get involved. Thank you.

Kariega APU Attack Drills.JPG

Adopt Rhino Thandi and Family

Support us and adopt Thandi and her family via our partners Helping Rhinos. Funds raised will benefit our APU and our Kariega Foundation environmental education programme in neighbouring community schools as well as other rhino conservation projects supported by Helping Rhinos.

We are grateful to our partner Helping Rhinos, a non-profit organisation committed to delivering tangible results in rhino preservation, for making this possible. Helping Rhinos was founded by Simon Jones who was a volunteer at Kariega Game Reserve. Simon started Helping Rhinos in March 2012 as a response to Thandi’s poaching.

How to Adopt Thandi & Family

Thanks to the Helping Rhino Adoption Centre you can adopt Thandi and her family in a few easy steps.

1. Go to Thandi’s adoption page:
2. Click on the Adopt button
3. Choose the adoption package that suits you best
4. Add the names of a friend or two who want to share the responsibility (if required)
5. Follow the online check-out process to register and pay online.

Simon Jones at Rhino Procedure

Shop with Purpose or Consciously Give

Gift yourself or someone you love a quality, bespoke product that donates profits to the Kariega Foundation and other rhino conservation projects.

SORAI Veldskoen

The Kariega Foundation is honoured to be the beneficiary of this collaboration between SORAI and Veldskoen Profits from this bespoke shoe is donated to the Kariega Foundation 'Walk With Us' campaign. By wearing a pair of these awesome shoes you are helping protect an endangered species!

Professional Cricketer and Sorai Founder Kevin Pietersen - "Making a positive impact in the world, providing a voice for the voiceless and conserving that which is endangered. We are incredibly proud and excited to be joining forces with Veldskoen on this project."

Kariega APU show off the Sorai Veldskoen

Rhino Tears Jewellery

Rhino Tears Jewellery was created by Sarah Cobden-Ramsay after her life changing safari to Kariega Game Reserve when she came across the magnificent Thandi.  Thandi's story inspired Sarah to create the Rhino Tear in her name, in the hope that spreading her story will be the catalyst for change. All profits from the sale of this beautiful jewellery support rhino conservation globally.


Collaborate With The Kariega Foundation

Collaboration is a founding principal of the Kariega Foundation. If the aims of your organisation align with ours and you would like to collaborate with us please contact our Director Lindy Sutherland on

Thandi’s Story

This is Thandi’s story.

On the 2 March 2012 one cow and two bull rhinos were poached at Kariega Game Reserve. Tragically, one bull was fatally wounded and died during the course of the night, whilst the remaining two were severely injured, but showed an incredible will to survive. Wildlife veterinary expert, Doctor William Fowlds, worked tirelessly with the Kariega team to give these survivors the best possible care and chance for recovery. Their bravery was unbelievable and inspired our rangers to nickname them Thandi and Themba, two isiXhosa names meaning courage (or to be loved) and hope. Sadly Themba (Hope) suffered a leg injury on the night he was poached and as a result of infection passed away on the morning of the 26 of March 2012.

Thandi became the first rhino to ever survive a poaching attack.

Thandi endured numerous operations to repair the damage to her face, including pioneering skin graft surgery and she healed surprisingly well. In December 2013 blood tests revealed that she was pregnant and after waiting for many months, we were overjoyed when she gave birth to a female calf on 13 January 2015. We called the calf Thembi, meaning hope in isiXhosa and in memory of Themba.

Since then Thandi has birthed a calf every two years! Her second calf, Colin, was born in January 2017; her third calf, Mthetho, was born in April 2019 and her fourth calf Siya was born in January 2021. She also became a rhino grandmother when Thembi birthed her first calf in October 2020.

Did you see Thandi on your Kariega safari? In celebration of Thandi's ten year anniversary, share your photos and stories on Facebook or Instagram. We love hearing from you!

Thandi before her poaching