On the 16th May 2013, Investec Rhino Lifeline, Chipembere Rhino Foundation, and the Forever Wild – Rhino Protection Initiative were approached to assist in the treatment and care for four injured rhinos that had been shot at Elandana Private Game Reserve near Hoedspruit in an attempted poaching incident. Immediately, a team of unparalleled expertise was mobilized, the start of collaboration between these NGOs, to go to the aid of the rhino owners involved, and the culmination of 6 months of planning and fundraising that created the capacity to send this team to meet injured rhinos in their hour of greatest need.
The four rhinos have escaped with their lives and horns intact, and fortunately most with relatively minor injuries. As the morning of the treatment day dawns, Dr Peter Rogers gives an update to Hugo Truter and Rai Landau of Tec Med, who brought state of the art mobile x-ray equipment. An initial assessment was done when the incident occurred. Now it’s time to go back to see how the rhinos are doing. The vet tech guys and Dr Rogers discuss the plan before he prepares the dart gun, ready to board the helicopter in search for the injured animals.
The rhino called Swagman is found. Surprised by the dart, but staying out in the open for the team to help him safely onto the ground. The shoulder wound, where the bullet entered his body, is clearly visible. Dr Rogers and his team get to work before the x-ray specialists move in to check on the location of the bullet.
Rai and Hugo move in with their ‘ghost busters’- like x-ray equipment. They worked their magic and were fortunate to locate the bullet almost immediately. The x-ray technology even shows the path of the bullet, as it tore into the rhino’s flesh. This mobile equipment can make a huge difference to wildlife vets and provides a real chance to diagnose underlying problems that may otherwise go unnoticed.
Swagman is one lucky rhino, as his injury will not require surgery. He will be in pain for a while, but the shoulder should heal in time.