Nov 9, 2009

Guinea Fowl in a Spot

Humans are always in a mad rush… running the big race to get ahead… fighting against time and always thinking of ways to make their lives easier. As the human race has grown in technology, fast-paced, and chemical lifestyle so has the amount of rubbish and pollution increased in response to their daily demands. We are injecting crops to make them stronger, forcing them to grow faster and then we coat them with mists of chemicals to stop the insects and rodents from snatching a quick meal.

We raise animals for our plates and to stop the “vermin” and other predators from sampling these tasty “takeaways” we lay carcasses out laced with toxic cocktails of poisons. These lethal combinations are seen as an easy way to eradicate annoying pests from depleting the numbers of these expensive livestock. We generate tons and tons of garbage which chokes up the land it is laid to rest on. Layers and layers of non-degradable materials heaped higher and higher leaking foul smelling and disastrous combinations of chemicals and gases into the surrounds.

And then… we are shocked when we see the effects of our “fruitful labours”.
We received a call from someone in the surrounding area… they had come across a rasp of guinea fowl. They were all lying down and were unable to move. The people who found them were under the impression that they had ingested poison.The guinea fowl were rushed over to us at Moholoholo Wildlife Rehab Centre where it was confirmed that yes; they had indeed been victim of poisoning.

They had to be stabilized immediately! Liquids were administered by means of inserting a tube down the throat and injecting the liquids through the tube. The guinea fowl were too weak to feed themselves so they had to be force-fed mealworms and flying ants. This does not sound like too big a deal but when there are 18 of them that require equal attention this is a very time consuming task. To be added to this the guinea fowl had to be attended to every 3 hours for their first couple of days. They were in a terrible state!
They seemed to lack any form of energy and some were making a ghastly gurgling noise. It seemed that, for some, it was touch and go.
Perseverance and persistence are the key to any battle! With the help of a handful of our more experienced volunteers who are studying veterinary science and completed vet nursing degrees, we managed to get them on the right track.

Some bounced back more quickly than others but eventually the hard work and dedication paid off and all 18 guinea fowl were standing, pecking seed and generally doing what guinea fowl usually do. After being kept under observation to ensure there were no relapses we decided that they were good to go!
Their legs were ringed to allow us to identify them and they were loaded carefully into release cages. Once they were settled in these cages they were driven towards the dam on the farm.
It was most definitely a case of “ready… set… go” with the guinea fowl flying out to meet their freedom. A little snack was sprinkled around for them which, after a circuit of investigation, they pecked at enthusiastically. They seemed to settle in immediately and appeared to be delighted to be out in the fresh air again.We will keep a watchful eye on them but hopefully we will be free from the worry of them being exposed to such a terrible ordeal as a result of poisoning.
People need to be more aware of the effect they are having on our existing wildlife. We need to break free from the “out of sight, out of mind” perspective and look at the bigger picture. We need to ask ourselves: what actions may I take to help make a difference, no matter how small?

Totsiens Thabo

Thabo, our miracle White Rhino calf has finally been relocated to his new home!

The last time we spoke of Thabo to you he was suffering from prolonged, chronic constipation. He went for weeks and weeks without any bowel movements. Even the vet that we rely on for assistance with our rhino babies was completely baffled by Thabo’s situation… Thabo carried on quite cheerfully while we all stressed over his terrible ordeal.

After attempting all the tried and tested methods of treatment – to no avail - we started reaching our wits-end. The vet had one last form of medication that we could try… and then after that we would really be in the dark as to what to do next. It seemed that there was just no solution to this problem…

We persisted with the medication but day after day there were no signs that it was working. When one day Thabo decided to surprise his Rhino parent (who was watching over him) and produced a large, well formed stool. Seeming extremely proud of himself, Thabo gamboled away to play in the grass. Never... NEVER… have you ever seen people as excited about rhino poop as the people in the rehab centre were that day! Shouts and Hoots of joy went up as the news was spread. Finally the rocky path seemed to be almost at an end and after careful monitoring and continued application of medication Thabo made it in to the clear. He carried on with his daily routine completely unruffled by all the excitement going on around him.

Now that he was out of the woods we could all relax and sit back and enjoy watching him grow. And boy did he grow!!! At 4 months and 170kgs he could put a fair amount of force behind his nodule of a horn. He became more and more confident as the weeks ticked by and he started to become more assertive in his demands for food. Although he began to thump his human admirers more often than not his “rhino parents” continued to adore him and could see no wrong in their little grey “angel.” They took Thabo for runs around the garden which he loved more than anything else! (not counting his milk) Those short, creased grey legs could pick up a burst of speed in a short period of time and he often had people doubled over panting while he stood impatiently waiting for another lap around the grounds. He provided us with many a good chuckle when he would rush out of the clinic in the morning bursting to burn off some of his pent-up energy. If you have never before seen it, you would not believe that a rhino could skip and hop and spring around as gracefully as he.

Finally secure in the knowledge that Thabo was fit and healthy we began the search to find a home where Thabo could be settled and cared for to the standards that Moholoholo upholds. It did not take long until a suitable home was found in the form of Thula Thula Game Reserve in Zululand, KwaZulu Natal. Here he would eventually be released out onto the game reserve to wander freely around. For the time being Thabo would be watched over by his original “mommy” Elaine who will be with him for at least another year.

The time came too quickly for some (and I am sure not quick enough for his new family) to say “Totsiens” (Afrikaans for goodbye) to Thabo and for him to be collected and transported to this new home. Tears were shed as rhino mommies reluctantly waved goodbye as Thabo departed in his rather comfy looking crate.

We are glad to report that after being introduced to his “luxury accommodation” Thabo has settled down well and has won over the hearts of all that came into contact with him.

A very BIG thank-you goes out to the special people who gave up time and sleep to look after this special bundle of “happiness” we really do appreciate your great contributions!