Wow! What a day our ARCC Africa Gap students had! The group is currently volunteering at the Rhino Fund Uganda. Yesterday, they participated in a medical mission to help Nandi, a wounded and pregnant Rhino. Nandi has several wounds that were severely infected and needed to be irrigated and cleaned. The wounds had come from fighting with another Rhino. Our ARCC students helped tranquilize, clean and dress these wounds. Here is a first hand account of the mission by Angie, the Director of the Rhino Fund Uganda. When every “volunteers” are mentioned… those are our Gap students and leaders!!!
Arriving at the spot where Nandi had spent the previous evening and seeing the blood stained sand I could only hope that in some small way Nandi would realize that we were only trying to help her. Dr Patrick estimated her weight at 2.7 tons and prepared the dart accordingly. Everyone was really quiet and I could sense the fear, even in the rangers, not being sure of what to expect from her. The call comes through, DART IS IN. ” Time” I say to a volunteer and it is recorded.
We are waiting, quiet and sweating, I mean really sweating. ” Time?” I ask, 10 minutes, she is still not down. “15 minutes” Dr Patrick calls, “come and push her over….” What? I think, Dr Patrick, have you lost your mind ? Nandi has fallen asleep leaning against a tree. We all look at each other hoping the next guy will go and help to push. Nico is Brave Heart, he runs and helps. Nico is 1.76m tall and Nandi’s back is higher than his head. Nandi goes down lying flat on her side. Dr Patrick says “Push her back, she is pregnant and the fetus is going to run into trouble, she cannot lie like that.” We push and push, she is huge and isn’t going anywhere. Eventually we get her half up and I tell everyone to keep her there. The rest of the group is helping to get the wounds cleaned and I am preparing the injections. 20 Liters of water, washed the wounds clean. A hand full of maggots …
Someone shouts, “Here comes Malaika” “Keep her away!” I shout and some rangers run to keep her at a distance. Malaika is Nandi’s 18 month old calf and cannot understand what we are doing to her mother.
Nandi is shaking terribly and I am really scared that she is going to have trouble with breathing soon. “Come on guys, we have got to finish up now. TIME?” I ask. “20 Minutes. That’s it, lets finish, she has been down long enough.” Dr Patrick says. “I need more antibiotic.” Four syringes full of antibiotic injected. “TIME?” 25 minutes, “Let’s give her the reversal. Check that we have got everything and run.”
The volunteers have gone ahead with the equipment and I run, I can hear Nandi snorting and it sounds close. I hear Okello calling Mommy, come this way, I look back and see her coming through the bushes behind us. I run faster with Okello. We reached the vehicles, I shout to the volunteers get on the pickup she is behind me, everyone scatters I jump into my car to see Nandi coming out the bush 5m away. She was angry, really angry and clearly wanting to get back at us. I see Okello in a tree. Nandi passes the vehicles and goes into the bush and the rest of the team come out, they were behind her. We pack the vehicles and go to Amuka Lodge for a drink where everyone narrates their stories of the afternoon, needless to say it was an experience that we will remember forever.