Saving Rhinos One at a Time – The Story of Themba & Thandi

Few events have a real impact on your life, and for me those would include the premature death of Princess Diana, the horrific terror attack on New York on September 11th, and the South East Asian Tsunami on Boxing Day in 2004.  All of these tragic events affected me deeply, and left a small but significant scar.

On 2nd March 2012 another event happened, something that not many will have heard of, or read about, but one that has affected me just as deeply, and that is the poaching of Rhinos that took place on Kariega Game Reserve in South Africa.

The poaching of Rhinos is a common event in South Africa, and indeed across the world.  These magnificent creatures are slaughtered in a cruel and shameless way, all because some small-minded, uneducated people believe their horns have medicinal benefits to humans – something that has been proven erroneous by medical professionals.

So like many others in South Africa, three Rhinos from the Kariega Game Reserve were darted, had their prized horns hacked from their faces, and they were left to bleed to death in what can only be described as a heartless and merciless event.

Tragically, one bull was fatally wounded and died during the course of the night, but miraculously the other two survived despite their horrific injuries, and this inspired the Kariega rangers to give them the Xhosa names of Thandiswa and Themba – meaning courage and hope.

Being cared for and treated by the marvellous Dr. William Fowlds and the Kariega team, Thandi and Themba continued to fight for their lives, but sadly, on Sunday 25th March, Themba lost his precious fight to overcome the horrific injuries he sustained during his attack, and passed away.

Thandi, the female, is still not out of the woods, but after reading Dr. Fowlds daily reports it seems we can be cautiously optimistic that she will survive.

As I visited Kariega in December last year and have several photos of these magnificent creatures in my treasured photo album, I cannot help the overwhelming feeling of pain and hopelessness as I read each day of their plight to survive.  I, like many, wish there was something we could do to free the Kariega Rhinos and the many others who are suffering this pain.

In the first three months of 2012, over 100 Rhinos have been poached in South Africa and if we do not do something soon, these gentle giants will become extinct due to the greed of man.

Thankfully, Dr Fowlds and the Kariega team have made their fight for Thandi and Themba a very public one, and while we are limited in what we can do to help, if we share their plight across the globe via social media, we may just help Thandi while respecting the memory of Themba.

If you are willing to help Thandi and other South African Rhino’s survive their daily fight against man, you can support one of the many Rhino charities, or more effectively perhaps, you can spread the word via Facebook, Twitter, and any other social network.

Together we can surely make a difference – a thousand voices are heard a whole lot louder than a single one.

See the whole story here, but beware, these videos are not easy to watch: /


10 Comments Add yours

  1. Vernon Wait says:

    Ingo – this is a wonderful piece of writting. It is a message that needs to be sent to all corners of the globe!

    1. Thank you Vernon! We will do our best to spread the word and hope the Lalibela Rhinos remain safe.

  2. cyleodonnell says:

    I remember reading about a similar story. It’s definitely sad. But the saddest part about it is that I can actually find these items in the traditional Chinese medicine shops right down the street in Tainan, Taiwan. It’s amazing to me that in the year 2012 people can still believe that the materials found in Rhino horns (essentially the same protein chains found in the human fingernail) have magical healing powers. So these animals will be killed so that some old lady with boils on her feet can get a false sense of mystical security that the ancient Taoist demons will stop cursing her to have them. Simply tragic. One more example of how religion kills.

    1. Thank you for reading Cyle, and for sharing your views.
      It is truly shocking, but how do we re-educate these people…? It’s a long road ahead, lets hope we get to the end of it before the rhino’s run out of time.

  3. Liz DeGuire says:

    I have found this story so heartbreaking that I cried as I read these stories. I was wondering, will Thandi’s horn regrow after her full recovery or did they completely destroy that as well?

    1. Thanks for reading Liz, I’m no vet but I am pretty sure Thandi’s horn will never regrow, they removed far too much tissue. If you are a facebook user you can follow her progress on or Thank you for sharing.

  4. Pak Liam says:

    Even worse, in my opinion was the news that the last Javan Rhino in Vietnam had been killed (poachers). There is only ~50 left in the world, all in Indonesia, not exactly a country renowned for it’s high standards of conservation.

    1. True… But how do we educate these people that Rhino horn is not medicine?

  5. soopafishl says:

    Hi & thanks for visiting my site…keep up the good wishes and success with all your ventures!

    1. Thank you! We will continue to follow your great pictures!

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