Schotia Game Reserve, Eastern Cape, South Africa. The two white rhino, named Bonnie & Clyde who were poached earlier in the week, but miraculously survived, received treatment two days ago and their progress has been closely monitored by reserve owners ever since.

Yesterday they were still apart and clearly still visibly stressed by their ordeal. The bull, Clyde, appeared to be in a worse condition than Bonnie, and although he was walking around in the thicker bush, his movements were sluggish and he seemed to be in some pain.

Today they have joined up which is good news and reserve staff report that they have been at the waterhole, which is also positive. However, the first results of blood taken at the time of the treatment are very worrying and our fears of extensive muscle damage are confirmed in these preliminary results.

Dr William Fowlds, of Investec Rhino Lifeline, has received the 1st blood results from Idexx Laboratories in Cape Town and they indicate that measurements of muscle trauma are in excess of 700% higher than the normal range. Dr Fowlds said, “The concern here is that this muscle damage may translate into kidney damage as dangerous chemicals are released into the blood stream from these traumatised cells. Sometime these effects are only apparent several weeks later which means we still have a long way to go before we know their fate”.

Other worrying indicators are that even at that stage, there were early indications of liver trauma. Dr Fowlds added, “As thick skinned pachyderms, there is a lot that goes on under the surface which is very difficult to see from the outside. Rhino anaesthetics need to be very carefully monitored and adjusted within a few minutes as their blood oxygen levels plummet quickly. In this case, they were left to die by the poachers and we suspect that they would have been under for between 12 and 36 hours before they were found. The fact that they are still alive is a miracle”.

A decision will be taken within the next two days regarding further supportive treatments.