After months of preparation and negotiation Sue Brown and Megan Carr invited  Mr Gary Chapman, senior vice-president group services DNATA and Mr Kristian Hunt, manager corporate communications, marketing and brand for DNATA, both from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to visit South Africa on a  Rhino fact finding mission.   


Dr Johan Marais and his family on a visit to Cape Town to discuss the DNATA fact finding mission to South Africa - 26th March 2014

Onderstepoort Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria entrance.

Area outside the faculty earmarked for recovery area for proposed static medical unit for Rhinos (and other large endangered wild animals) as part of the Saving the Survivors project. This area would serve the larger animals well with regard to their recovery process it is also conveniently situated for easy access to and from the hospital and transport.  

An informative two hour tour of the Onderstepoort veterinary medical facilities with Dr Johan Marais and Dr Steenkamp which included a meeting with Dr Henry Annadale director of clinical services was conducted.

Scanning equipment for large animals.

Operating theatre for large animals.


 Sue Brown and Megan Carr escorted their guests with Dr Johan Marais and Dr Gerhard Steenkamp to the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre in Limpopo Province.  It was their intention for the guests to witness first hand the complexity of treating a large mammal in its natural surroundings.  

On the 30th of August 2013 these three Rhinos were poached and their horns savagely removed.  The two Rhino female survived the brutal attack but sadly the male died. They were moved on the 4th September to the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre. They were attended to and looked after by resident wildlife vet Dr Peter Rogers.   

On arrival at Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre, Dr Peter Rogers and his assistants dart the female Rhino so that they can undergo specialised treatment.  

This image shows Dr Peter Rogers examining the older female Rhino who was successfully darted, her eyes covered for the duration of the procedure, her temperature and blood pressure monitored at all times.

Work begins immediately to remove the handcrafted metal protective plate which is screwed into the area where her horn was removed by poachers. 

Her head is resting on a container so that she is comfortable; the medical team and their assistants  roll her during the procedure to make sure that there is continued circulation to her limbs. 

Mr Rai Landau, a Radiographer has been asked to join the team for the day; Saving the Survivors does not have the equipment that is needed to x-ray the Rhino to determine the infection and internal damage caused by the poaching and removal of the horn

From left to right: Mr Rai Landau, TecVet; Dr Gerhard Steenkamp, Dr Johan Marais and Dr Peter Rogers. 

With the protective metal plate removed the doctors access the healing process and administer the necessary antibiotics, antiseptic and wash and clean the wound.

The team is large and the equipment extensive.

The removed protective cap is discarded.

A new protective metal plate is handcrafted on the back of the vehicle.

Before the dressings and new plaster of Paris can be administered the instant images on the x-ray are discussed between Dr Peter Rogers and Dr Johan Marais and Dr Gerhard Steenkamp these determine the healing process within the sinus cavities. 

Dr Gerhard Steenkamp treating her wound, Dr Peter Rogers taking a close look with Mr Rai Laundau in the background. 

Antiseptic ointment administered by Dr Johan Marais, it is imperative that the metal plate stays in position.  Flies which result in maggots have a detrimental effect to the healing process. 

New plaster of Paris protective covering administered by Dr Peter Rogers. With the use of clever adapted software Dr Johan Marais and Dr Gerhard Steenkamp have established how to administer a dental block so that the Rhino is comfortable and relatively pain free during this entire procedure. 

The new metal plate is firmly attached. 

The Rhino is given an antidote to the dart and wakes up and is back in her natural habitat with her new protective metal plate and her wound cleaned. 

The second younger female Rhino was successfully darted so that the medical team could assess her general health and check on the healing process where her horn was aggressively removed by poaches in August 2013. 

Dr Gerhard Steenkamp examines the wound which has been left open and  free of the metal plate to heal on its own. He measures and records the size of the wound.

Mr Rai Landau and Dr Johan Marais x-ray her head. This vitally important equipment and the technician is on loan to the Saving the Survivors medical team.  The doctors can assess accurately how the healing process is progressing and check for any infection caused by flies and maggots.

Dr Johan Steenkamp and Dr Peter Rogers discuss her ongoing treatment which involves checking the wound, cleaning of the wound and the application of antiseptic ointment and anti-fly disinfectant.

A relieved team and smiles all round as another successful Rhino medical treatment is completed.  A big step towards saving the endangered species.  From left to right Mr Rai Landau, Dr Gerhard Steenkamp, Mr Kristian Hunt, Mr Gary Chapman, Dr Peter Rogers and Dr Johan Marais.

Mr Peter Rogers administers the anti-dote to the anaesthetic dart to wake up the Rhino after her treatment. 

After a tense few minutes she awakens and unsteadily at first but then with conviction she returns to the safety of the bush.  

This fact finding mission and the months of hard work preceeding this visit culminated in a successful and on going relationship between DNATA, SAVA and the Saving the Survivors team. Specialised equipment to the value of 3.2 million ZAR was donated to SAVA (South African Vets Association) by DNATA making it possible for the Saving the Survivors Team to offer a fully mobile medical treatment service, which can be carried out in the natural surroundings of the injured Rhino.