Posts Tagged With: Veterinary


This must be one of the most brutal fortnights yet in the history of the rhino poaching war, in our province. At least 14 deaths were discovered in various protected areas in as many days. (I can’t go into detail at this time but it’s getting even more savage, as if that’s possible.)
Yesterday honestly rates as one of the lowest points in my life as a wildlife vet, pretty much an emotional breaking point – but it’s not the first time; it’s something that is happening far too often. I don’t think it is possible to explain to somebody who hasn’t experienced this nightmare, what even one death scene does to you. It’s traumatic and haunting, and cannot ever be erased from your mind. I’ve attended over 400!!

-From wildlife vet Dave Cooper


Planting crosses for fallen rhinos in South Africa. So far, there are an estimated 731 of them this year.

The slaughter is real, the poachers are relentless. In this incident, Dr. Cooper attended a death scene of not just one more rhino, but four!

We need to be just as relentless in our efforts to curb the poaching and protect our rhinos. If you’ve ever thought about helping, there is no better time than now. Please DONATE to support APUs in Kenya and South Africa.


photo: Max Waugh



Categories: Making a Difference, Ranger Heroes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Engineering a Second Chance for Rhinos

“Necessity is the mother of invention.”

Poaching has made it a priority to save every rhino possible.This means even the most violently injured poaching victims receive the utmost in care; with veterinary staff leaving no stone unturned in their journey to heal and rehabilitate them.

In the July of 2013 the miracle survivor, Thandi underwent a groundbreaking plastic surgery to help repair her gaping wound left from poaching. Four years later, she is mostly recovered, but still experiences her wound opening from time to time.

thandi after


Never anticipating a rhino could miraculously survive such an attack, it happened yet again with a cow named Hope. This time, this rhino literally lost more than half of her face.

Hope early poaching

Hope, in the beginning. photo: Saving the Survivors

With such a daunting task ahead of them, the veterinary staff constantly strive to find solutions to her recovery. Here is the latest report on Hope from Saving the Survivors:

 The wound healing is not progressing as fast as we would like. As you are all aware we have given her a break from the long anaesthetics to give her system time to recover.

Because the healing rate has slowed, we have been in contact with a biotechnology company to explore the various possibilities with regards her healing. To keep it simple (not too sciencey) we are looking at using collagen sheets inserted into the living tissue of the wound to create a wound matrix onto which cells can grow so we can start closing the cavity.

It will most probably be very costly but it is worth every cent if it means we can give this iconic young lady quality of life and long happy healthy future – we owe that to her.

We are still looking at our best options for this very special rhino girl. What we can say with some certainty is that she is mostly pain-free. We hope to have more news for you in the next couple of weeks.

Hope now feb 2016

Hope today

The process of treating these endangered giants has grown from simple bandaging to research, testing and pushing the limits of human creativity. Whether successfully achieving the delicate process of skin grafting or engineering the perfect rhino-proof shield; it is a testament to our determination in saving the species.


Categories: Rhino Ramblings, Rhino Spotlight | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Christmas Dreams

Peace love and rhinos

I’m dreaming of a peaceful Christmas

even if the moon is full.

I’m dreaming of a cloudy night and starless sky

for the rangers down below.

I’m dreaming of the light of change

To fill the darkest of a man’s heart,

With compassion and wisdom

Before the killing even starts.

I’m dreaming of a silent night

Where the vets don’t get that call,

Where both rhinos and people can sleep soundly,

For peace to creatures one and all. 

                                                   by: T. Wardlow

To all rangers, vets, caretakers, and our supporters-

Merry Christmas!



Categories: Poetry & Art, Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Thandi: Life of a Survivor

Everyday there is another poaching, most of the time another life taken. But for the “lucky” few, they survive.

For those rhinos, it’s not just a matter of providing a bit of veterinary care, then sending them on their way. The physical and emotional toll it takes lasts the rest of their days.

A couple of months ago we were in Kariega Reserve and had the privilege of meeting one of my heroes, Thandi, the rhino who cheated what seemed certain death.

On our second siting of Thandi and “baby” Thembi, it was immediately obvious from a distance that something was different. As she moved through the grass, happily grazing with Thembi not far behind, the sun shone off her face showing a glint of red. Moving in closer, there was no doubt it was bloody and raw.


Thandi, wound re-opened. photo: Fight for Rhinos

After numerous skin grafts, being anesthetized and treated, this is as good as it will ever be for her. Even the best of veterinary care and creative “bandaging”, cannot hold up to rhino life. There is a bull in the area who does what comes natural, the equivalent of rhino flirting. Through pushes and bumps, the thin skin over her nasal area isn’t as sufficient as the protection of her own horn.

She doesn’t seem to be in pain, as she happily munches her grass or gives Thembi “love taps”. In fact, the blood was the only sign something was wrong.

But as Thembi grows older, Thandi will mate again, hopefully making Thembi a big sister. Rhino mating is not a gentle process!

The Kariega staff and veterinary team keep a close eye on their star. She is in good hands, but seeing the occasional re-opening of the wound is a constant reminder of her struggle, of the long road we are all traveling in the poaching war to prevent other rhinos from the same horrible fate.

Thandi Thembi Kariega

Thandi and Thembi grazing and taking in the sun. photo: Fight for Rhinos



Categories: Rhino Ramblings, Rhino Spotlight | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

Saving Rhinos with Art

  • Keeping rangers equipped and active in the bush
  • Providing milk and veterinary assistance for orphans
  • Tracking and monitoring rhinos
  • Supporting and educating local communities on the importance of wildlife preservation
  • Updating and utilizing technology in the field

These are some of the key components your donations allow us to support!

black mambas training

Black Mambas, all female APU in training.

By being a part of the art auction on June 1st, you will make a significant impact on these initiatives with the following groups: Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage
                                                         Ol Pejeta Conservancy
                                                         Game Reserves United
                                                         Vision Africa
                                                         RPU Program in Indonesia


Veterinary check at Thula Thula

Don’t see anything you want to bid on? Can’t afford the piece you want? There will be a DONATE option. Donations are always welcome in ANY amount!

Please help us sign (through FB, Tumblr and Twitter) and share our Thunderclap to promote the auction. The more people, the greater the success, the better for rhinos!

Thunderclap: FFR ART AUCTION

harapan art june


Categories: Making a Difference, Poetry & Art, Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Lissa’s Story

Palm Beach, FloridaThe Lion Country Safari is home to Lissa, a white rhino. What started out as a sore at the base of her horn turned out to be cancer. She has endured five surgeries including chemotherapy.

Click here for more: SAVING LISSA


Categories: Rhino Ramblings, Rhino Spotlight | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Touching Moment

???????????????????????????????Dr Will Fowlds with Thandi: by Heather Perrine Shreve

I’m excited to share this poignant piece, acyrlic by Ms. Shreve. She is an author and artist, and recently released her book Caught on the Equator, Finding the Fire Within

Heather Shreve’s Studio

Categories: Poetry & Art, Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Darkest Before the Dawn

It is all too easy to get lost in frustration and despair in the war for rhinos. Each life means so much, and each death weighs heavy in the heart, BUT each victory is just as significant.

My gift to all of you this holiday season: HOPE.

mama and little one rhinoThere is reason to believe we can bring the rhino back from the threat of extinction. We can stabilize the population, control the poaching.

#1-Thanks to programs that transform poachers to rangers like what  AfricanParks  has done in the Congo,  minds are changing. (see: Second Chances: Success in the Congo)

#2-Community incentives that give people a reason to be invested in their own wildlife and rewarded for that investment, like in Zimbabwe (see: Zimbabwe Leads the Way)

#3-Zoos have a new role in conservation, through in-depth scientific analysis (of rhino dung) they have learned more successful methods of breeding rhinos including use of artificial insemination. (see: Rhino Dung Research)

#4-There is a plethora of technology being integrated into the war on poaching (drones, microchips, poison injections into the horn,etc.)

#5-Awareness is spreading! The elephant poaching billboard in times square was a huge endeavor (see: The Elephant in Times Square). Ad campaigns in China and Vietnam, and education in Africa are helping. There has also been increased celebrity involvement (Leonardo Dicaprio, Prince William, Yao Ming,  Jackie Chan,etc. )

#6-The US is increasing involvement in wildlife trafficking with President Obama taking a stand, pledging funds to anti-poaching efforts in Africa and creating the anti-poaching Task Force.

#7-There is now military involvement in Kenya from the British paratroopers, helping to train rangers. (see: British Paratroopers Train..)

#8-South Africa has stepped up military involvement in the parks. (see: War on Poachers Intensifies)

#9-All of the people on the ground who work tirelessly from the rangers at the parks working to protect the rhino,  to the the Rhino Orphanage and other groups who rehabilitate the orphans after a poaching,  to the veterinary staff and the behind the scenes organizations who work to fund all of it.

With numbers as low as 50 left in the wild in the early 1900s, the southern white rhino has now increased to over 20,000 and has become the most populous of all the rhino species.

Large-scale poaching of the now critically endangered black rhino resulted in a dramatic 96% decline from 65,000 individuals in 1970 to just 2,300 in 1993. Thanks to the persistent efforts of conservation programs across Africa black rhino numbers have risen since the early 1990s to a current population of 5,055.

We CAN do this.

Dr William Fowlds, DVM in South Africa is seeing a difference.

The international momentum against wildlife trafficking is starting to rattle some sabers. I can’t say the same for our corrupt systems and poor political competence. However, there is a groundswell of positives even in SA and we have to simply keep going. If we put ourselves on the line, we will turn this tragedy around.”

So please don’t give up! Fight for them!
You can join the fight and help greatly by donating to Fight for Rhinos.

RhinoLargeDONATE  $20 usd in someone’s name for the holidays and we will send them a certificate congratulating them for their contribution to the survival of the rhinos.

Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence.  ~Lin Yutang

Categories: Good News, Making a Difference, Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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