The two Fairy Glen rhino, whose horns were hacked off by poachers after the animals had been drugged, are still alive after eight days – and game reserve owner Pieter de Jager believes they may pull through.
“The female is looking better. I’m very positive about her. The male is still in danger. He’s blind, and I’m hoping it’s an infection, but the vet said it would be permanent. He walked alright for two days and then walked in circles.
“But yesterday (Sunday) he stood up and walked straight to the water hole and lay in the water for half the day to cool off.
“Then he stood up and I gave him his lucerne. He ate that and went back to the water,” De Jager said.
He had been told that this was the longest rhino have survived after suffering this sort of injury and after being drugged.
“The vets say that others have died after two days.
“I’m in touch with the vet in Thabazimbi who translocated the rhino here, and a local vet.”
A local freelance photographer, Cheryl-Samantha Owen, who visited Fairy Glen near Worcester with De Jager on Saturday, believes the animals should be put down.
She described the rhino as “two highly stressed animals and what felt like a circus going on around them”.
“We were allowed to go very close and he (De Jager) went right up to the animal which should have been left in peace.
“The rhino was obviously very uncomfortable and attempted to go for him,” said Owen, who was photographing the animals for National Geographic.
De Jager then took her and two other photographers to the female rhino where they all followed it into the bush.
Owen said later a vehicle full of tourists had pulled up next to the female rhino.
“The next thing they were all following her into the bush. She got spooked and they turned running full pelt to the vehicle.
“If he (De Jager) were really concerned he should not be taking tourists to see her,” Owen said.
De Jager was taken aback when asked to comment on Owen’s claims.
He said she had not mentioned any of this to him and he had got an e-mail from her yesterday thanking him for his assistance.
“That’s strange. She asked me specifically to go closer for her photograph.
“When I turned my back she went up even closer to the rhino than I did,” De Jager said.
He claimed no tourists were allowed to get down from the ex-army “buffels” – armoured vehicles used for game drives.
“The people she saw maybe was my manager, two rangers and another guy from my staff, and myself.
“We were spraying her for flies from 2m and she did come forward and the people did scatter.”
Asked for his opinion, Kruger Park vet Johan Malan said it was very difficult to evaluate an animal he had not seen.
“But if it is eating and not losing weight, and is drinking and walking, then it sounds positive,” Malan said. - Cape Times