Hope is a 12 year old Rhino, who had her horn hacked off of her by poachers last year in the Eastern Cape, leaving her with a massive wound.
Veterinarian Dr Johan Marais and his team at Onderstepoort were able to give Hope the chance at a new life yesterday.
“Hope’s poachers were not professionals,” says Marais. “Poachers normally know exactly where a rhino’s horn ends and the upper jaw begins, but these poachers thought the more they cut, the more horn they’d get.”
Marais says they are attempting to close the wound by placing over it and fastening it with orthopaedic screws. This procedure has not been done by anyone else in the world, Marais and his team have so far helped 10 rhinos, and will continue to do so. The procedure was developed over 2 years. Hope’s case is a little different to what they have done previously, because her upper jaw was taken as well.
“Because Hope has an open wound, making her vulnerable to infection, we had to use sterile rubber bands to draw the ends of the wound together.”
Since last year Hope has had 10 operations to try and heal her wound.
“Hope still has a long road to travel, and it will take about a year before she is completely recovered. If we can reduce the wound by 1 cm now, it will already be progress.”
According to Marais Hope will still be able to breed.
“She’s already able to breed, but rhinos tend to be rough with each other when socialising in the wild. We’ve left her boma open to allow her to socialise with the other rhinos, but we could she she’s shy and careful. The wound must be hurting her badly, and she went back into her boma almost immediately.”
Hope is recuperating on a farm in Bela-Bela.