NGO Saving the Survivors Treats Mutilated Rhino with Elephant Skin Graft

Thanks to an amazing NGO in Africa and an experimental elephant skin graft, a rhino named Hope has a chance at survival after poachers brutally mutilated the young animal for her horn.

Hope the Rhino Has Been Saved By An Elephant Skin Graft

While rhino poaching is a huge problem for South Africa, veterinarians at Saving the Survivors have been working hard to ensure that rhinos who do survive the awful, traumatic act of poaching will have a speedy recovery.

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Though Saving the Survivors has been in operation since 2012, the most recent rescue of a rhino called Hope has grabbed the attention of the media as the vets used skin grafts from an elephant to repair the poor creature’s damaged face.

Dr. Johan Marais and Dr. Gerhard Steenkamp are the veterinary heroes responsible for giving Hope a future. The veteranians, both from the University of Pretoria’s Faculty of Veterinary Science, used a unique approach of using elephant skin grafts in a surgery that lasted over three hours. Two other vets, Dr. William Fowlds and Dr. Johan Joubert, also assisted in the remarkable procedure.

NGO Saving the Survivors Treats Mutilated Rhino with Elephant Skin Graft - Clapway

Saving the Survivors Believes Surgical Conservation for Rhinos Is Needed

The organization believes that treating rhinos that have been victims of poaching is absolutely critical in rhino conservation. The team relies on surgical conservation efforts, such as the procedure they performed on Hope, to ensure that the animals who have been left behind for dead don’t succumb to the terrible brutality of inhumane poachers.

The team believes that through their efforts, the rhino population has a better chance at recovering. Though the vets deal with emotions like rage for the poachers whenever one of these injured animals comes in minutes from death, they turn their hatred into help by using their surgical skills to restore the health of the magnificent beasts.

NGO Saving the Survivors Treats Mutilated Rhino with Elephant Skin Graft-Clapway

Along with their efforts to save Hope, the team gives a lot of credit to the brave rhino herself. She is only four years old, but her tenacious spirit and will to survive has allowed her to recover quite well at the Shamwari Game Reserve.

While the wound is still healing under a shield meant to protect her face, the doctors are still researching better alternatives to find a shield that can protect her as well as aid her healing. At the present moment, the shield is working, but her rate of recovery is just considered good, not great and the vets want to do everything they possibly can to help her out during this time of recovery.

Hope the Rhino Brings Animal Conservation to The Forefront in Africa

Hope the rhino has only been in recovery for five weeks. The vets believe she still has well over over a year to fully recover. While she is healing thanks to the team at Saving the Survivors and the Shamwari Game Reserve, we need to remember Hope is a symbol for all the other rhinos who still need animal rights conservationists to take a stand for them.

Hope’s skin graft from an elephant that died of natural causes brings more hope for other rhinos who are victims of poaching. Every rhino matters, no matter how injured, they can still be saved.

While we have an incredible team of vets at Saving the Survivors, perhaps we should also work harder to ensure the protection of our rhinos before the vets have to perform surgery on more rhinos.

Picture credits to Saving the Survivors and Daniel Haesslich

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