Many of you will know that African wildlife, particularly iconic species such as rhino and elephants, are under severe threat from poaching, and that if this problem is not stopped, many of these species will become extinct. Since 2013, over 1,000 rhino have been poached each year in South Africa alone, and the slaughter shows no sign of abating.
Dr William Fowlds' struggle to save Themba and Thandi made headline news around the world and he was interviewed on Sky News, BBC News, CNN and ABC television. In 2013 he was invited to tell the story of Thandi and Themba at the Royal Geographic Society in London, where Bear Grylls introduced him to an audience of over 700 people. Will has subsequently travelled to China, Vietnam and the USA to raise public awareness about the scale and horror of the illegal wildlife trade, and has engaged the support of large numbers of influential people, including politicians, Hollywood stars and even Princes William and Harry.
Sadly, after 21 days Themba succumbed to his injuries but Thandi, despite having to endure repeated operations over many months, survived. Will made an international appeal for donations to a fund he set up to treat Thandi, and Medivet did not hesitate to make a contribution.
In December 2013, during one of the many checkups Thandi underwent, blood tests revealed she was pregnant and Will estimated she would give birth in December 2014. All those involved in Thandi’s dramatic story of survival anxiously awaited the birth, and on Tuesday 13th January 2015 Kariega Game Reserve made the following announcement:
“Kariega Game Reserve is delighted to announce that poaching survivor Thandi the rhino has given birth to a calf at 8.50am this morning. The birth was witnessed by two Kariega rangers and shortly afterwards wildlife veterinarian Dr Will Fowlds observed the mother and her calf from a distance. He confirmed that both are doing well.”
Kariega Game Reserve (www.kariega.co.za) and Adrian Steirn
Dr William Fowlds comments: “I am sure that the whole rhino caring community will share in the joy of this amazing birth. Thandi’s story has always been an incredible testimony to the will to survive against all odds. She represents so much of what her species faces under the current poaching crisis. Her survival has already given us inspiration but the birth of her calf brings a new dimension of hope to the crisis, showing us that a future generation of life is possible if we put our minds and hearts to it.”
Kariega Foundation patron and Kariega Game Reserve co-owner, Graeme Rushmere, comments: “Thandi’s calf is a real reward for her courage and everyone’s unbelievable efforts in saving and caring for her. We are so grateful for the incredible support that we have received from individuals and organisations across the globe. Thandi has become an amazing ambassador for the rhino and for the many dedicated people fighting the war to end rhino poaching. We are simply delighted.”