There's hope for 'Hope' the rhino

2015-06-09 21:09
A rhino named Hope, in her pen in the Eastern Cape province, treated with a dressing where her horns used to be. (Suzanne Boswell Rudham/Saving the Survivors via AP)

A rhino named Hope, in her pen in the Eastern Cape province, treated with a dressing where her horns used to be. (Suzanne Boswell Rudham/Saving the Survivors via AP)

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Johannesburg - A rhino that survived having her horns hacked off by poachers is doing well after undergoing surgery, one of the vets that operated on her said on Tuesday. 

"The surgery went well yesterday [Monday]. She is doing quite well. She is alert and walking around and eating," Dr Johan Marais, an equine and wildlife surgeon at the University of Pretoria, told News24.

Marais is part of Saving the Survivors, a group that treats rhino with gunshot wounds, facial gouges and other injuries inflicted by poachers.

Three weeks ago poachers darted the rhino with a tranquilliser and hacked off her horns. She was later found by staff at her wildlife reserve - alive, but with a huge wound on her face. 

'One of the worst injuries that I had ever worked on'

"It was a large wound, about 50cm by 30cm and very deep. It went far into her sinuses and nasal passages," Marais said.

"It is easily one of the worst injuries that I had ever worked on. "

The rhino was later given the name "Hope".

She underwent an initial surgery in May.

On Monday, Marais and other vets worked on cleaning and redressing the wound and helped to maintain the structure of her face at the Shamwari Game Reserve near Port Elizabeth. 

"We removed dead tissue. There is also dead bone. We took out some, but we also used it as a scaffold [to help restructure the face]," Marais said. 

"We will go back in two or three weeks."

Marais said it would probably take a year and a half for the wound to heal. 

However, if Hope was suffering to a point where it was inhumane to keep her alive, the vets would "put her down". 

"But we don't think that at this moment."

Marais said one of the fundamental problems around helping rhino was that there was very little information available on the animals, especially on their anatomy and how to deal with situations like Hope's. 

"This is a work in progress."

He said that at the rate rhino were being poached, people had to make a concerted effort to gain more knowledge about the animals so that more of them could be saved.

Read more on:    rhino poaching

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