An Update on HESCs two survivor rhinos

On a very hot Tuesday morning, a veterinary team consisting of Dr Peter Rogers, Dr Johan Marais and a group of assistants gathered at the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre to review the condition of the two poached rhinos, and to replace their casts.
We were all anxious to see how Lion’s Den and Dingle Dell’s wounds had healed since their last procedures.
After putting up quite a chase, Lion’s Den, the older cow, was darted first. The top layer of the cast had been rubbed off, but otherwise there was limited damage – a relief to everyone on the team.
The vets struggled to remove the screws that held down the cast, but eventually got it free and were able to inspect the healing wound.
While a few maggots had managed to get in under the cast, the wound showed a definite improvement in the 2 ½ weeks since the last check-up.
Local anaesthetic was administered to block the nerve supply to the horn. Lion’s Den was also given a painkiller, penicillin and an anti-bacterial agent.
While the sun beat down, the team kept the rhino cool by periodically dousing her with water. An umbrella was also erected over her.
The team began by flushing the wound with water, and scrubbing it with a brush. Some exudate had built up under the cast that needed to be cleaned. Next, the wound was washed with F10 disinfectant. Dr Rogers also flushed out the screw holes with iodine to prevent infection.
Prenine, an ointment containing cortisone, was applied to the wound to prevent itching. A calcium alginate dressing was applied over this, followed by an antimicrobial foam dressing and the plaster cast.
Like the previous time, a sheet of galvanised metal was placed over the cast and secured with screws and pop rivets in an attempt to
keep Lion’s Den from scratching through the top part of her cast.
Once the antidote was administered, Lion’s Den quickly found her feet and wandered off into the undergrowth.
Dingle Dell, the younger rhino, was darted next. She came to rest in a bushy area and once again the team had to work to clear shrubbery around her head before they were able to begin removing the cast.
As with Lion’s Den, the cast showed minimal damage. The team quickly began the process of removing the old cast. A local anaesthetic was administered around the horn to minimize pain while working on her.
The entire team was excited by the progress of Dingle Dell’s wound. The once-exposed sinus cavities had completely closed over. The doctors were intrigued to see that a hard horn-like layer was growing over the wound. A sample of this was taken for testing to see whether it is in fact horn.
A few maggots were found around the screw holes on the wound, but again, this was nothing serious.
The entire process was repeated with the second rhino.  The wound was cleaned with water and F10 disinfectant. The screw holes were flushed with a disinfectant as well. Then prenine ointment was applied. A calcium alginate dressing, antimicrobial foam dressing and the plaster cast were applied over this. The galvanised steel plate was fitted over the cast and secured with pop rivets and screws.
Lastly, a silicone sealant was applied around the edges of the rhino’s cast to keep dirt, water and maggots from getting in under it.
The antidote was given and Dingle Dell wandered off.
Everyone is very pleased to see these two wonderful creatures recovery well.

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