Stakeouts Warthogs and catching Rhinos

SO MUCH EXCITEMENT THIS WEEK.

I am now on RHINO TEAM. On rhino team I get to bottle feed and care for orphaned baby rhinos, a baby kudu and a baby sable and take care of monkeys, red and gray duikers, an eland, bushbuck, bush babies and three adult rhinos!!

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Petronel challenged my team to attempt to catch the male Nyala that somehow escaped from his enclosure and is now not able to breed the females. She said if we caught him she would take us out to pizza…. and around here that’s a SERIOUSLY awesome reward. So my team decided to camp out down by the enclosure with the gate open and feed inside and wait for him to go back in. About thirty minutes into our silent stakeout we hear this grunting noise and a loud gate noise so we all jumped up and turned on our flashlights screaming and out of the darkness comes the tame Warthog Henry that was hand reared here and just kind of hangs out. So he crashed our stakeout and then proceeded to wedge himself into the middle of our sleeping bag pallet and then eat our sleeping bags/shoes/backs/clothes etc and I have pictures to prove it. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. It was pretty great. Then we freaked ourselves out that there were people coming to scare us/poachers on the property so we FREAKED out and hid with the baby rhinos. Needless to say, we have yet to catch the Nyala bull.

Nyala: 1       Rhino Team: 0

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On Friday we found out that there was a group of rhinos poached on a farm close by. The group was not 100% successful in their poaching attempt and a mother and her small calf were left behind. The Parks Board Veterinary team and Rangers were called out to de-horn her to prevent future poaching attempts in an effort to save her life. During the darting procedure the mother was darted by helicopter, she then ran into a ravine and crushed her diaphragm despite the helicopter pilots attempts to push her away from that area. It’s a pretty grim circumstance considering she died in an effort to save her life, and her small calf was left behind. So the Rehab got a call from Parks Board veterinary response team asking if we were equipped to handle a baby rhino calf and we willingly obliged. So what that meant was basically….we had to build a rhino boma in one day to be prepared for the calfs arrival on Sunday. We literally worked our butts off preparing the boma with the workers here at the farm. Our job was to gather these 7 foot long poles and throw them over a 12 foot fence into the boma area and then stack them in the boma against the horizontal poles and wire them in, a design put into place to prevent the rhinos from being able to break out of their enclosures. It was incredibly intense labor and I’ve never been so sore in my life. Totally worth it though.

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Sunday, we woke up at 5:00am to meet up with the Parks Board game capture and rhino rescue response team at the farm where the rhino was. The Veterinarian got into the rescue helicopter and darted the calf while the rest of us rode in the back of the ground response bakkie to get to the rhino once she was darted and down safely. The bakkie’s give Texas trucks a run for their money; you have never truly been off roading until you have rode in the back of one of these things during a rhino capture. Trust me I have the bruises to prove it.

 

When we arrived at the rhino calf she was immediately blindfolded and cotton was taped into her ears to prevent further stimulation and capture stress. We then were able to place IV catheter lines into her ear veins so we could start fluids, since she was severely dehydrated and stressed from the capture it was essential that we begin fluid treatment immediately. She was then humanely dehorned, microchipped and a full DNA kit was run to be banked at the University of Pretoria. We then walked her with ropes, one around the head and one around the back leg to act as a brake in case she took off running blindfolded. She was walked into the crate and loaded into the truck and brought to the facility, we stopped every couple of miles to check on her breathing and monitor her IV fluid lines and bags. Once we got her to the farm we offloaded the crate and hooked her up to more fluids immediately.

 

She will stay in the crate anywhere from the next couple of days to weeks depending on how she is doing. Her name is LIBBY! We are still unsure at this point if she is going to make it due to her severe dehydration, and because of her age (About 1YR) it is unlikely that she will take to drinking milk from the bottle. It is essential that she begins eating and drinking soon. And with all of the trauma and stress she has endured I don’t blame her for being absolutely terrified. But I am going to everything in my power to ensure that she is given the best chance of survival. Already ready for my overnight shifts 🙂

 

I actually got to use more technical skills! Fluid drip calculations for shock doses, blood glucose monitoring, blood draws, PCV and total protein and keeping a log of nurse’s notes for her care. It is such an amazing and rewarding experience to be a part of Libbys recovery and her story. Not going to lie, there were a lot of times today when I got emotional thinking about the vastness of what I was actually being a part of. We got to save a rhino’s life, how many people can say they were a part of that? Although I hate the circumstance that this blog post has to be written under, I am certainly thankful that Libby has the chance at survival and hopefully a brighter future where she is safe from poaching. Today was incredible and without a doubt one of the most remarkable experiences of my life.

 

I LOVE SOUTH AFRICA.

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[If you are interested in learning more about what you can do to help stop rhino poaching please visit the save the rhino page! Help save rhinos like Libby from becoming extinct in the wild!]

Tuesday we’re celebrating my birthday early for the people leaving Wednesday. We’re having a bonfire with booze and face painting. A real South African birthday party apparently. Can’t wait for that as well as my real birthday on Friday! What a great start to my birthday week!

Blessed,

B.EAST

PS: JUST FOUND OUT WE’RE GETTING ANOTHER BABY RHINO TODAY

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