It was “rhino plasty” of a different kind for a team of surgeons this week when they conducted facial reconstruction surgery on a rhino injured in a poaching attempt.
Rhino Thandi, of the Kariega Game Reserve near Kenton-on-Sea in the Eastern Cape, was dehorned by poachers in March last year and the operation was for skin grafts to repair facial damage.
An update on the Eastern Cape reserve’s website this week, by wildlife veterinarian William Fowlds, of Investec Rhino Lifeline, said Thandi had woken after an hour of surgery. She had a small dressing over part of her face.
The operation was deemed necessary after Thandi, who recovered after her poaching ordeal, was injured when she was butted by a bull introduced to replace the breeding capacity lost when two prized rhinos were killed in the attack.
Doctors had suspected that Thandi’s new skin was not strong enough to deal with usual rhino life.
Surgeons – including specialist veterinary surgeons Gerhard Steenkamp and Johan Marais, and plastic surgeon Alistair Lamont (who usually operates on humans) – applied three different grafting techniques to areas which were able to receive new tissue. More....