Kariega rhino, Themba, dies three weeks after poaching ordeal

Watch the video: Tribute to Themba – Not for sensitive viewers

Condolences have streamed in via social networking site Facebook after the death of the male rhino that survived a horrific poaching attack at the Kariega Game Reserve during the early hours of the 2nd of March.

Affectionately dubbed Themba (Hope) by Kariega’s rangers after surviving the ordeal of having his horn hacked off with pangas and left in the veld, Themba’s health had been an ongoing concern after severe damage was caused to his left back leg, where circulation was cut off while lying on it, after being tranquilized by the poachers.

“It is with a huge sense of grief that we regret to inform you of the passing of Themba this Sunday morning. In his compromised state he failed to remove himself from a waterhole he had been drinking at. In spite of efforts to assist him he passed away just after 9am,” the Kariega team posted on their Facebook page.

“The whole Kariega team is devastated by this loss after such a dedicated effort to save his life. Our heart felt appreciation to all those that have extended their support over the past three weeks. We will miss him dearly and recommit ourselves to keeping his legacy alive in an effort to spare all rhino from suffering the same fate,” they said.

Hundreds of people have been joining the Kariega Facebook page every day since the incident, keeping track of the progress of Themba and Thandi, the female rhino that survived, via regular updates from veterinarian,Dr William Fowlds that provided a glimpse into the monumental task of caring for animals that survived the horrific ordeal.

At the news of Themba’s passing, messages of condolences streamed in.

Teddy Fowles wrote: “My Grief and sadness is incomprehensible. Just terrible news and my heartfelt sympathies go out to Dr Fowlds and the whole Kariega Team for the superhuman efforts in looking after this most precious patient. That he gave up his fight for life finally after showing such incredible courage in the face of what must have been excruciating pain in his face and leg is testament to his character. That Dr Fowlds and the team exhibited such incredible dedication and fortitude against such terrible odds is testament to their professionalism, empathy, love and dedication…”

“My soul cries to hear of beloved Themba’s passing. I have followed the entire team’s struggle to save these majestic creatures, every day. I want to say THANK YOU to each and every single person who has been there, willing their recovery. Know it is not in vain. It is so encouraging to know there are so many fighting for what is right, despite the greed-ridden elements that infect this beautiful world. This war will be won, one day. And know that Themba’s is free of his suffering. R.I.P. ,” wrote Melanie Landzaat.

Tracey Whitelaw wrote: “What an awful outcome, for us all, but perhaps best for this gentle giant. Thank you to all at Kariega, the staff, volunteers and owners, and especially Dr Fowlds, for the humane response to these animals’ trauma and for showing how great humans can be in the face of devastation caused by the greedy and heartless and ignorant few. RIP Themba.”

The Kariega team reported that Thandi had been sighted with the other rhinos and as far as could be ascertained without immobilising her, she appeared to be doing as well as can be expected.

The Kariega Game Reserve, through the Kariega Foundation, have established a Save the Rhino fund since the poaching incident. You can find more information on the Save the Rhino Fund here.

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