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Thandi’s Miracle Rhino Calf Thembi Turns Two

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In a world filled with uncertainty and apprehension it is important that we keep our chins up and focus on what is going right, what we are doing well and the places, people and stories where hope, love and joy reside. Today, on rhino Thembi’s second birthday, we pause and take a moment to look down memory lane and celebrate the miracle of her mother Thandi’s life and Thembi’s birth.

It is a story worth sharing over and over again because it is a constant reminder of the joy that comes from pain, the light that shines from the dark.

Rhino Thandi and Thembi’s Story Begins in 2012

Rhino Thandi and Thembi’s story begins on the night of 2 March 2012.

2 March 2012:

On 2 March 2012, three rhino were poached at Kariega Game Reserve, one female and two males. Sadly one male was fatally wounded and died during the night while, miraculously, the other male and female survived.

3 March 2012:

We found the two rhino that survived the attack the following morning. They were butchered and bloody and in a serious state of injury. We named them Themba (hope) and Thandi (courage) and over the weeks that followed Dr. William Fowlds and the Kariega team worked tirelessly to save Themba and Thandi.

26 March 2012:

We were devastated when Themba, who had suffered a leg injury on the night he was poached, succumbed to an infection caused by this injury and died. It was 24 days after his attack.

Thandi, however, continued to amaze us with her strength, courage and determination to live. The wound on her face where her horn had once been was a constant reminder of the cruelty she had suffered. Her story found roots all over the world and inspired many people to do amazing things in an effort to bring awareness to the plight of rhino and an end to poaching.

December 2013:

Thandi endured many medical procedures including a pioneering skin graft surgery to close the hole on her face. In December 2013 she had blood tests after one of her surgeries and it revealed that she was pregnant! It was only 21 months since her brutal attack – an heartwarming sign of hope.

13 January 2015:

Rhino calf Thembi is born to her incredible mother Thandi. The international community was overjoyed and all of us at Kariega were basking in the light of love, joy and hope that this young calf represented. We named her, Thembi or Hope, in memory of Themba and as a beacon to show the world that rhino need our care and protection.

Thembi’s two year life has brought us all immense joy. Kariega field guide Daniel captures the past two years in this heart-warming video. It is impossible not to smile and laugh while watching it!

Thank you to each and every person who has played a role in Thandi and Thembi’s story. Your actions, donations to the Kariega Foundation Save The Rhino Fund and words of encouragement have been greatly appreciated and added much needed fuel to the on-going fight to protect and save our rhino.

This photograph taken by Kariega field guide Allen Allman, leaves us with the perfect image of the peace and tranquility that rhino Thandi and Thembi now enjoy – which is the right of every rhino on the planet. Happy Birthday Thembi, may you continue to thrive and live in peace.

Thandi and Thembi on the Kariega plains by Allen Allman