Breakthrough operation on shot rhino a success

2015-08-25 10:10
Dr Mike Toft cleans iThemba’s wound before stitching on a new elephant hide cover.

Dr Mike Toft cleans iThemba’s wound before stitching on a new elephant hide cover. (Kifaru wildlife Veterinary Services)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

WITH the bullet that almost killed a pregnant white rhino cow extracted and on its way for forensic investigation, she is showing “excellent” signs of healing.

iThemba and her five-year-old calf were shot, dehorned and left to die three weeks ago by poachers at the Mahalela Private Game Park in Zululand.

iThemba’s bull calf was found dead, and iThemba was found a day later, barely alive with her front horn missing and a gunshot wound to the head that had partially paralysed her left front foot.

Zululand wildlife vet Dr Mike Toft and Saving the Survivors vet Dr Johan Marais teamed up two weeks ago in a groundbreaking operation to use elephant hide from a local taxidermist to cover iThemba’s gaping wound.

Unable to use the standard fibreglass cap usually used on poached rhinos as much of the bone underneath had been taken with the horn, the two vets came up with the innovative technique of using elephant hide to cover the wound.

On Saturday, Toft, along with other specialists from the Kifaru Wildlife Veterinary Services, started the next step of iThemba’s treatment.

Toft said they successfully immobilised iThemba to “replace her elegant elephant hide nasal covering after she had removed it herself last Friday”.

“It gave us an opportunity to examine the original gunshot wound that was discharging heavily.

“During the course of cleaning and flushing the gunshot wound I was able to retrieve the bullet and will be submitting it for further forensic investigation,” said Toft.

He said they removed numerous bone chips from the gunshot wound that he said was evidence of how close the bullet had come to killing iThemba. The bone chips were from the lower neck vertebrae that had been clipped by the bullet.

“The anaesthetic was one-and-a-half hours long, slightly shorter than the initial two-hour operation on the first day. She handled the anaesthesia like a star, thanks to the expert monitoring of my wildlife assistant, Cosmos,” he said.

He said he was pleased to have discovered the wound was showing early signs of healing and had healthy scar tissue forming.

“iThemba recovered almost immediately after the reversal medication was given and was seen trotting off happily back to her shaded spot in the boma,” said Toft.

Mahalela shareholder Mark Dedekind said blood was taken from iThemba on Saturday and would be tested to see how her pregnancy was progressing.

He said the park hoped the trauma of the shooting and losing her bull calf would not result in her aborting the pregnancy.
Read more on:    rhino

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.