Posts Tagged With: Hoedspruit

Building a Canine APU

Earlier we requested your help in putting Chloe through her anti-poaching class. Her training is complete! She now helps protect the Kapama area near the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Center (HESC) and Kruger National Park.

The HESC current recruits are Bullet and Zee. The duo is the core of the Centre’s program; with Zee successfully done with initial training and Bullet going through  puppy training.


Bullet and Zee



The next step will be for them to undergo advanced training. The cost of the course is R20 000 per dog and another R20 000 for the trainer to attend and have her with the dogs at all times. That’s approximately $4,162 usd total.

We are committed to assisting with the successful care and training of the dogs; both for the protection of rhinos and the protection of the rangers. If you are able, please donate via PayPal.


Philippa, Lions Den and Dingle Dell; 3 of the rhinos @ the Centre.





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Update on Chloe

Thank you to everyone who’s donated or purchased a tee. So far we have raised $270 toward Chloe’s anti-poaching class!

She has started her training, but still needs $852 to cover the total ($1152.00) Here’s a glimpse of her hard work-this is Chloe identifying rhino horn:

Please consider donating through our Paypal link.


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Raining Rhino Horn

We came rushing in; each person carried something pivotal to the procedure, everyone having a part to play in the de-horning of this massive, majestic rhino. She lay in the brush (as rarely do they collapse into more convenient, open areas), immobile, helpless. The sedative taking effect.

Before the vet could even start directing the all too familiar procedure, the chainsaw roared to life, immediately going to work to clear away the thorny bushes and branches around her. Time was crucial, as leaving an animal under anesthetic or in the same position for too long, could be damaging.


There is no shortage of help in keeping this rhino safe and healthy during the procedure.

Once space was made, a team of no less than 6 men rolled her into place. The chainsaw still in hand, the work began. As the horn was sawed away, a little at a time, the minutes became more surreal. What an amazing moment-to be so close and feel her breath under her warm enormous body, against me.

Horn shortened, she was again re-positioned, keeping pressure off her fragile legs, so as not to crush them under her massive weight. Dr. Rogers began carefully sanding down the edges, rounding off the stub.

A blanket is used to cover her eyes to protect them from debris and to help keep her calm.

A blanket is used to cover her eyes to protect them from debris and to help keep her calm.

Shielding our eyes, particles and dust from the horn flew in all directions. It rained down into my hair, on my face, across my arms and chest. Picking a piece up, no different from my own fingernail shavings; I marveled at the fact that THIS is why she’s in danger. THIS is why they are all under peril.

Someone jokingly remarked “you have gold in your hair”. The reality of it weighed heavy in the air.

Injecting the reversal drug after a successful procedure.

Injecting the reversal drug after a successful procedure.

One of the team was in tears, others just silently watched the doctor meticulously work.

As he finished the process, one of the team took blood to test, another applied the antiseptic to the minor scrapes and cuts she sustained from falling from the darting process. Finally she was given the anesthetic reversal, the blanket pulled from her eyes and we moved out.

None the worse for wear, she stood, hesitated for the briefest of moments and ambled off back into the bush, her companion waiting not far off.


In our recent visit, we had the privilege of working with Dr. Peter Rogers and the team on de-horning one of the former victims of poaching at the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre.

In August of 2013, Dingle Dell and Lion’s Den, two rhino cows were poached. Fortunately with the help of Dr. Rogers, Dr. Johan Marais and their stellar veterinary team, they survived. The two have endured countless procedures since then, and recently underwent another dehorning to make them less of a target to would-be poachers.

De-horning is now a common procedure for a great deal of the remaining rhinos in South Africa. Yet no matter how much the “norm” it has become, there are moments when it hits you-the irony that we must rob a creature of it’s parts in order to save it from others who seek to do the same just to save it’s life.


We thank Dr. Rogers, his team and the staff at HESC for their professionalism, dedication and hospitality. It was an honor to fund the cows’procedures as they continue their rehabilitation at the centre.





Categories: Rhino Ramblings, Rhino Spotlight | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

World Rhino Day 2015

Back stateside, after 2 weeks in the bush… we learned so much, met fantastic people with great minds and passion for wildlife, and were able to re-focus as we looked into both current and new strategies in our part in the poaching war.

Starting off in the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC) , Fight for Rhinos sponsored the dehorning of one of  two poaching survivors, and personally sponsored the other. They are well cared for and coming along nicely in their rehabilitation.


Lions Den & Dingle Dell, poaching survivors at HESC before the dehorning. Photo: Fight for Rhinos

We left HESC feeling satisfied and productive after meeting with such professional and experienced people. As we arrived at the airport, a chopper flew low overhead. A moment later we heard of a possible poaching.

A feeling of dread set in, mind racing, as we wondered about the rhinos we had just seen, both in the Centre and in the bush. Was it one of them?

Unfortunately, being anywhere in Africa it seems wi-fi is spotty at best. It was a couple of days before we heard that not just one, but FOUR rhino were poached in Hoedspruit.

Funny that it should matter being there, as opposed to hearing about it from behind the laptop. But emotion doesn’t often make sense. And sitting in the airport, I felt like we should have been able to help them somehow.

It took some time to shake that feeling, it weighed heavy on me. But having so much further to go, so many more people to meet, I tried to focus on the rest of our agenda.


White rhino in the Kruger area. Photo: Fight for Rhinos

Thankfully there were many parts of our visit that brought us hope. Veterinary staff, APU teams, guides and rangers alike helped shed light on their needs, their vision, their eagerness to push forward and protect the rhinos.

A member of the HESC team touched my heart as she gifted me a bottle of Rhino Tears wine (the purchase of which supports rhino conservation). I immediately decided if it made it’s way home unscathed by the airlines, we will not be indulging until the poaching crisis reaches a turning point. It sits in my kitchen as a reminder of what’s still left to do.

So as we celebrate another World Rhino Day, we’re really celebrating another year with the existence of rhinos in the wild. Another precious year, another chance to get it right.

We appreciate your support, and look forward to sharing our new strategies and plans soon. In the meantime, keep sharing, tweeting, and raising awareness! Together we will keep making a difference.


Looking forward to turning the tide, and finally tasting the wine.




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Hope was never poached

Thandi was poached. Hope was poached. #72 was poached. Right?

Not according to the South Africa government.

Recently Saving the Survivors lost #72, a bull who was shot several times and died as a result of his injuries.



His autopsy showed the bullets from his poaching ordeal ricocheted inside his body. His vertebra was damaged, and fragments of shattered bone were found throughout his body, creating more internal injuries…. he had an abscess below his vertebra, and only had 75% lung capacity as his lungs were punctured.

As a result there was internal bleeding. Organ and tissue degeneration were evident, signs that his system was in the process of shutting down. The painkillers we administered during his treatments made it possible for him to walk, and offered him some relief. It’s evident that no amount of input from the medical team would have changed the eventual tragic outcome.

Yet #72 is NOT a poaching statistic.

Hope didn’t die, but they took her horn; yet she is NOT a poaching statistic either.

hope closeup

Hope-she lives, so she is not considered poached.

To put it simply – if a rhino is killed in a poaching incident but they do not take the horns – it will not be listed as a poaching statistic.

Any baby (calf) that is killed during a poaching of his mother (cow) does not form part of the statistics.

The government refuses to publish the exact numbers of poachings, claiming it takes too much time from their busy schedules. In addition, obviously their very definition of poaching is questionable.

Poaching: to illegally hunt or catch (game or fish) on land that is not one’s own, or in contravention of official protection. This is the literal definition the government utilizes. Yet surely in these desperate times it does not apply or accurately reflect the crisis at hand.

The figures that you get are terribly skewed. That is why it is critical for every rhino, no matter the expense, to be saved. We are losing them faster than you think. What are your thoughts on this?

Posting: Saving the Survivors

Photos: Hoedspruit Endangered Species Center

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Poaching Survivor Lion’s Den

We mourn the loss of poached rhinos, and root for the lucky ones, the survivors. But what does “surviving” entail?

In September of 2013, 3 white rhinos were poached. Their horns were cut off with a chainsaw. One died, the other two, Dingle Dell and Lions Den survived. The cows were brought to the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Center where they received veterinary care.

The bloody wounds inflicted on them left their sinus cavities exposed. The veterinary team performed skin transplants; the first ever on rhinos.

They have both endured numerous operations and treatments. Dingle Dell recovered within months, but Lion’s Den is still healing a year and 2 months since the poaching.  She is darted and her wounds checked regularly to monitor her recovery. Here is a pictorial of one of her treatments..

After darting, her eyes are shielded and the team loosen the screws on the metal plate covering her cast.

After darting, her eyes are shielded and the team loosen the screws on the metal plate covering her cast.

The old cast is removed and the wound is washed.

The old cast is removed and the wound is washed.

The "improved" wound is examined.

The “improved” wound is examined.

Insecticidal spray is applied to keep flies and maggots away.

Insecticidal spray is applied to keep flies and maggots away.

After re-bandaging, the metal plate is screwed back in place.

After re-casting, the metal plate is screwed back into place to deter her from rubbing the cast.

She is given reversal drugs to counter the anesthetic, she awakens and hurries over to join Dingle Dell.

She is given reversal drugs to counter the anesthetic, awakens and is quickly joined by Dingle Dell.

It is a long road of recovery for these gentle giants. It is unclear how much pain she is in or the extent of her physical suffering, nor the psychological trauma she has endured. But fortunately she is in good hands, and is making progress.

The lesson to take from Lion’s Den, Thandi and other rhino survivors is perseverance. They have no choice but to fight and carry on; it is for that reason we have no option but to do the same. Each life saved is a victory to be celebrated, a reason to wake up and fight another day.








Categories: Rhino Ramblings, Rhino Spotlight | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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