The story of 2 surviving rhinos

1 killed, but 2 survived

Nearly 11 months ago, a ranger radioed the head of the anti poaching unit on an un-named reserve in South Africa, to ask if the rhinos had been de-horned as he had spotted a rhino without a horn. The anti-poaching unit stepped in, and found that 3 rhinos had been darted by poachers and de-horned. Miraculously, although 1 bull was killed, the remaining 2 rhino cows survived.

anti-poaching rhino conservation
Her horn was cut off with a chain-saw 11 months ago, but Lion’s Den wound is still healing

The horns had been neatly cut off with a chainsaw, but this left the animals’ sinus canals open and exposed, posing a massive threat.

Where do the rhinos go to heal?

The 2 rhino cows were moved to the Cheetah & Wildlife Rehabilitation Volunteer Centre, so that they could keep a close eye on them, assist with the treatment procedures, and reduce costs in helicopter fees, which would have been required to conduct aerial searches for them.

It has been an epic journey for these 2 surviving rhinos since then, with a huge amount of support, knowledge and research to take care of these 2 amazing animals – both by the Cheetah & Wildlife Rehabilitation Volunteer Centre and Saving the Survivors.

What now, for Lion’s Den and Dingle Dell?

The smaller rhino cow, Dingle Dell, has now completely healed. The larger rhino cow, Lion’s Den, whose wound was much more severe, has taken much longer to improve.

These two animals were the first rhinos in the world to ever receive skin transplants.

rhino conservation volunteering
Keeping an eye out for Dingle Dell

They have both had a number of operations and treatments to close these cavities with a fiberglass cast, which covered the entire nasal area. Although the cast did the job, it causes irritation to the rhinos, who eventually rubbed it off, by rubbing against tough trees.

Last month, the head curator Christo, noticed that the cover was coming off the older rhino’s wound and immediately scheduled another treatment, to prevent damage to the open wound.

After darting the rhino cow, and giving her a local anaesthetic, the wound was rinsed with water, and a proper examination was done. The healing of the wound is improving, and the central portion of the open wound is growing smaller. Nasal mucosa (granulation tissue from the sinus canals) is building up inside the wound and hindering the healing process.

anti-poaching rhino conservation
Blocking the nerves on Lions Den

This excess nasal mucosa was completely removed, to allow healing tissue to continue growing. Slow-release calcium alginate wads were placed into the wound together with an antibiotic powder. After covering the wound with medicated paraffin gauze, the team dropped their tools as it was time to turn Lion’s Den onto her other side.

This is done every 20 to 25 minutes to ensure that the rhino has efficient blood-flow to her legs.

anti-poaching rhino conservation
Rhinos have to be turned every 20 to 25 minutes to ensure sufficient blood flow to their legs

After the cast was fitted, the Lion’s Den woke up again. And again, everyone is humbled by the fact that this amazing animal pulled through yet another procedure without any complications.

anti-poaching rhino conservation
All help needed to turn Lions Den

We are confident that she will heal completely in the next few months.

Do Something Amazing – come and volunteer at the Cheetah & Wildlife Rehabilitation Volunteer Centre, and play your part in helping these surviving rhinos, and other endangered wildlife.


A truly life changing experience, working on wildlife and community volunteering projects in Africa over 15 years ago, convinced Gemma Whitehouse to give up her job as a Marketing Manager for an international organisation and use her skills and expertise to set up a company that would offer others the same amazing opportunities with a service second to none - thus Amanzi Travel was born.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.