Help us save Thembi the poached White rhino

by Saving the Survivors
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Help us save Thembi the poached White rhino
Help us save Thembi the poached White rhino
Help us save Thembi the poached White rhino
Help us save Thembi the poached White rhino
Help us save Thembi the poached White rhino

Project Report | Jul 10, 2018
An update on Thembi - 4th June 2018

By Zoe Glyphis | Veterinarian

Thembi and her calf reunited after the procedure
Thembi and her calf reunited after the procedure

On the 4th of June 2018, a misty Monday morning, Dr Johan Marais and Dr Zoe Glyphis from Saving the Survivors travelled the scenic 450km route to visit and treat Thembi. Thembi was poached in 2010, and we have been caring for her since the end of 2017.

We arrived on the reserve at about 10h00 and got straight to work. On rhino capture and procedure days, we are always accompanied by many people, and it is important to us that these people all feel included and take responsibility for our natural heritage. So before we set off into the bush, we get all the guests assembled and we brief everyone on the days procedure. This is a very important part of the day as there are often many new faces in the crowd, and it allows us a few minutes to educate the public and to ensure that everyone abides by the safety rules, for their own safety, and more importantly the safety of the rhino.

Thembi is closely monitored by a field ranger, so once we are prepared and all the safety briefings are completed, we get her location from the ranger we set off in vehicles to get closer to the area that she was last seen in. Dr Ryan van Deventer accompanies us on these procedures as more experienced hands make for much safer and lighter work. Dr Ryan prepares an immobilization dart for Thembi and her calf, and then he gets into the helicopter to fly to the area Thembi is in. We dart her calf to ensure that we do not lose him during the procedure should he be scared off by the helicopter, to safeguard the ground team because these little rhino are very powerful, and also to minimise the stress that he would experience should he try to defend his immobilized mother - which little rhino calves often do. Thembi and her calf are then darted from the safety of the helicopter. This also allows our very experienced pilot, Mike Ross, to drive them away from any hazards like open water or very steep hills, and also guide them to an area that is easily accessible by the ground team.

Once the sedatives have taken affect then the ground team moves in and gets to work. The first step is to ensure that both rhinos are stable under sedation and to start monitoring all their vital signs. Some more medications are administered to stabilize the anaesthetic and offer extra pain control. We can then get to work on Thembis wound. This is the 4th time we have treated her. We cleaned and assessed the wound, and then placed Glubran, a surgical glue used in humans, to cover her wound. We are pleased to report that her wound is healing really well and there is beautiful granulation tissue covering most of it. It is also winter in South Africa, so flies and fly-strike are not a problem.

It is very comforting to see how well her calf is doing, and how fearlessly he defends his mom – their bond is incredibly strong and we are grateful that we can give this rhino and her calf a second chance at life.

All of this work is made possible by YOU, our incredible donors and supporters. Without all of you we cannot Create Hope from Hurt - so Thank You for making these treatments possible!

Saving The Survivors | Creating Hope From Hurt


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Organization Information

Saving the Survivors

Location: Pretoria - South Africa
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @savingsurvivors
Saving the Survivors
Juan Smith
Project Leader:
Juan Smith
Pretoria , Gauteng South Africa

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