Saturday, February 14, 2009

A rhino with a broken horn

Rhino horn is much softer than you imagine. Especially when the horn gets longer, quite regularly the horn can break off during fighting or other trauma. A broken horn is very uncomfortable for the rhino, so it's better to cut it off. New horn will grow back exactly as a nail. Seeing a rhino horn in real, makes you even more wonder why people in 'the man made world' make 'just hair' so important: completely ridiculous. < ------------------ This wild rhino was found with a broken horn in the morning. A big logistic operation was organized to immobilize her and her 1 year old calf. Because it's very hard to find an injured wild animal back in the thick bush it's important to dart it as soon as possible after you have found it. In only a few hours a helicopter was hired and 2 trucks were organized to translocate both mother and calf to another much smaller game reserve to prevent further fighting and also to be able to keep a closer look on them. To make sure the mother and calf stayed together, only the mother was darted from the helicopter so that the fully awake calf could follow her. Wild animals often run away after being hit by the dart and/or from the noise and wind from the helicopter. When the calf is fully awake it can follow the mother, because logistically it's a problem when the mother and calf fall asleep far away from each other. Also one of them can be lost in the thick bush when they seperate. Therefore the calf was darted from the ground just next to the mother after she got sleepy, so that both fell asleep next to each other. The horn was cut off and the wound was treated with disinfectants. The cow also received antibiotics and a painkiller. Then a partial antagonist was given in the ear vene to make the rhino 'a little bit more awake', but not fully awake. She must be awake enough to 'walk' to the crate by pulling the rope around her head into the direction of the truck, but sleepy enough to not run away or to charge the people pulling the rope. The amount of anaesthetics and antagonist is quite a tricky bit! Both mother and calf each 'walked' into a seperate crate smoothly and the journey to their new home could begin. After arrival in the new reserve both the mother and calf received the full antagonist in the truck. The mother had to leave her crate earlier than the calf, to prevent the calf running off. Peter told the crowed that no sounds were allowed. The mother first left her crate...then the calf. All went smoothly but somehow the mother and calf walked a different direction. Now Peter strict comments became clear. Everybody held their breath... What were they gonna do?? They could not see each other. Silence....more silence.... Then suddenly the mother started calling...hmmm....hmmmm.... The calf reacted....hmmm...hmmmm... No movements. They were just standing there approximately 40 meters apart. Hmmm....hmmmmm....hmmm...hmmmmm....echoing to each other for a few minutes. Then suddenly they moved towards each other. Such a wonderful moment when the calf was back at its mother side and both walked quietly into the bush together. Absolutely incredible creatures!

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