Second skin graft on poaching survivor
Categories: ALL THE NEWS , Civil Action/Philanthropy, Advocacy , Wildlife & Conservation
Poaching survivor, rhino Thandi, received follow-up treatment and further skin-grafts at Kariega Game Reserve on Monday morning, 22 July 2013
Following her skin graft procedure one month ago, Thandi underwent a follow-up procedure this week in which doctors and surgeons undertook to assess which of the three skin graft methods applied in June had worked best, as well as to apply further grafting treatment.
Dr Marais and Dr Lamont decided that the "split skin" technique had been the most successful and during the 50 minute procedure the team cleaned Thandi's wound, checked for any signs of complication or infection, and applied more of the "split skin" grafting method.
It is hoped that the grafted skin from the procedure will add to the three small islands of transplanted cells, which appear to be growing within the graft area. When Thandi’s wounds were healing after she was poached in March 2012, she was able to grow a substantial plate of keratinized tissue over where her back horn used to be, made possible by a small island of surviving cells. Based on this knowledge, the goal of the skin grafting procedures is to provide a bed of tissue that will allow for the same kind of healing over her front horn defect.
The procedure was attended by a special guest from Hong Kong, Julia Murray, a 12-year-old rhino activist who has been raising anti-poaching awareness for the past year, attracting all sorts of media attention in Hong Kong and beyond. Apart from raising awareness, Julia has managed to raise over R90 000 for rhino conservation groups such as the Chipembere Rhino Foundation. Dr Fowlds comments “Her infectious spirit is a motivating addition to efforts such as these. As I prompted her to share some of her story, I could not help wondering over a life time of benefit just this one young person will generate for animals all over the world. I have no doubt that her being there with Thandi will remain etched in her memories forever and that is an exciting recipe for action.”
Graeme Rushmere, co-owner of the reserve comments “Kariega’s greatest wish is for Thandi to be able to live a peaceful and undisturbed life.”