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Hi all - today I am wondering if the effort was worth it! An operation on me, a wild animal – Wow!!

I am at Elandela, back from the operating table at Onderstepoort but, what a story!! My eyes are stabbing, my throat is burning, my body is aching and my head is throbbing today! I am tired and my feet and joints are burning! Clova really missed me while I was gone! Clova is wound up tightly and does what we rhinos do when we are agitated – bash everything we can with our horns. I could hear her squealing from afar when I disembarked upon my arrival! She immediately knew I am sore and she is cooing over me! She is protective and helping me around because I can hardly see a thing today!

Rhino Rhino Shepard coaxed me into the truck on Monday evening. This however, was to be my last milk or water for a day! We arrived at Onderstepoort on Tuesday 3 January at 7h30, where I was met by Dr. Goodhead – what a nice guy! Once again Shepard coaxed me out of the truck and into a building housing the operating theatre! All I could smell was horses, disinfectant and the fear of animals which came before me! Quite a crowd of people gathered to watch and photograph a small rhino in a huge building of cold cement with huge reverberating halls!

Eventually we came to the chamber in front of the door of the operating theatre – a place smelling of dread! It took all my courage to follow Shephard into that room, only to find that a steel gate was slammed shut behind me. This was a terrible shock, especially when I was squeezed into a smaller steel crush – my blood pumped in my ears and I tried pushing out of the crush, but to no avail! This is where the Anesthetist, Dr. Brighton Dzikiti injected me and my legs slowly jellied beneath me. Vaguely I heard Shepard’s and Yvonne’s calming voice disappearing……

A number of videos were made of the rest of the operation by a number of reporters – perhaps I will see them as well one day - but from here on Rocco can relate the events better than me:

Rhino Rhino

Once sedated Roccy was hoisted by electric crane, hooked to leather straps round his feet and lowered onto the operation table where Dr. Goodhead had his equipment prepared for the operation. First the right eye was done and then Roccy was raised again – dangling in the air – and laid down on the other side, to do the left eye. Roccy was deep under gas anaesthesia and on a ventilator during the whole operation, skilfully overseen by Dr. Dzikiti. Elandela Rhino Survivor Trust is deeply grateful to all our donators for making this moment possible!

Dr. Goodhead is clearly an expert in his field and his confidence in what he was doing made the operation pleasant for all the photographers and reporters covering this important event for Elandela Rhino Survivor Trust. The footage they got is intended to promote some of the mayor objectives of the Elandela Rhino Survivor Trust – the awareness campaign regarding the plight of the rhino in general, as well as the utmost effort the Trust is making to raise the rhino orphans in its care to lead normal rhino lives on Elandela Private Reserve.

The lens is the part of your eye that focuses light onto the retina. If this small collection of water and protein clouds up, decreasing the amount of light to pass through it onto the retina, the person or animal has cataracts in their eyes. The only cure is by a surgical procedure called phacoemulsification. After incisions through the cornea and the lens high frequency ultrasound waves are used to break up the cataract into a soft pulp which is aspirated out of the capsule of the lens. In Roccy’s case he had bad scarring of the lens capsule and Dr. Goodhead intentionally cut the lens capsule open because the scarring could grow into adhesions blinding him in future. Obviously Roccy cannot focus any more – the function of the lens – and will always be longsighted. This also means that Roccy’s brain will need a few days to adjust to this longsighted eye. The operation was interesting and highly informative.


Thank you Onderstepoort for allowing us all access to the operation! Successfully done!! Now we can only wait and see………………… we will keep you posted on Roccy and Clova!

Rocco: +27(0) 82 492 1776 Yvonne: +27(0) 82 468 5092
Postal Address: P.O. Box 693, Hoedspruit 1380, Limpopo - SOUTH AFRICA
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