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Nthombi, Heroes Rhino Week

October 20, 2019

Hero Rhinos Week * Day 7 – Nthombi

Small rhino calves will not easily leave their mother’s side, even after she had been killed by poachers, despite the presence of the perpetrators. They often suffer a horrific fate. These tiny babies are hit, hacked and stabbed because they charge and fight whoever threatens their mothers.

Our last story for Hero Rhinos Week is that of Nthombi, a tiny 3 week old calf that was brought to us years ago in 2013. We were called to come fetch her but warned that she was hit with what seemed to be an axe. The vets gave her a 10% chance of survival and the 8 – 10 hour travel time to us, was not ideal. But how could we say no? Little did we know the horrible sight awaiting us. There she was, so vulnerable, so small there was almost no horn, a swollen, sore, and broken little rhino. 21 cuts and gashes over face, neck, head and shoulders.

Particularly worrying was the gash on her head as it leaked cerebrospinal fluids (the fluid surrounding the brain). You could partially see her brain tissue and hear the fluids when she moved her head. Another laceration cut straight across her little nose, partially into her stumpy knob of a horn, and partially into her nasal cavity. It was enough to make you nauseous, lightheaded, it broke your heart in a million pieces to witness this act of cruelty. How would she manage to cling to that 10% chance? How would we? But we did and today this rhino is close to 7 years old and in her prime, ready to fall pregnant, in the safety of her new home. With careful flushing and managing, the wounds healed in time but we witnessed what bordered on PTSD.

The trauma she went through initially had a big effect. Nthombi was scared of men and terrified of sigarette smoke, so much so, that she would blindely run into boma walls. There is a saying that time heals all wounds , and luckily for Nthombi it did, Her injuries healed and only faint scars, hardly visible, remained . So did the emotional scars in her heart. She became a feisty, spicy, zesty rhino who made it known who she liked and who she didn’t. Now that’s what we call a #survivor, that’s why we do what we do, that’s why we believe #thereishope. Always❤️