For immediate release: 25 August 2011 As the Aquila team prepared themselves for the massive operation to relocate the injured rhino, “ABSA” this morning, a vet inspection revealed that he had died within the last two hours. Searl Derman said “After the first poaching rhino attempt, I researched past incidents and although gruesome, nothing comes close to the pain and disgust I’ve experienced in the last few days. This is a devastating loss. We worked throughout the night to erect a temporary boma.
This morning we were shocked to find the first rhino reintroduced into the Cape, since the species was hunted out 250 years ago, lying lifeless in the veld.” The support, efforts, donations, awareness and goodwill from everyone from businesses to the general public has been overwhelming. “I thank everyone involved who has assisted in one of the biggest and costly attempts to save a rhino in South Africa. Since Saturday the world has watched ABSA fight to live and battle against death” stated Searl Derman.
Invaluable lessons from this incident have been learnt showing how little technology, equipment and resources are readily available that could be the lifeline to ensuring successful rescue and rehabilitation procedures and save many of the poached rhino who make it through the horrific drugging and dehorning attacks. Searl Derman said “I’ve learnt that the greatest cause of death is nerve and muscle deterioration in the legs leading to organ failure, and believe that industry needs to design prosthetics and rapid response machinery that can assist in the rescue and rehabilitation of a rhino surviving a poaching attack.” The focus has only been on saving ABSA, and all efforts and resources will now be pushed into catching the criminals and protecting all of South Africa’s private game reserves. “This experience has been the catalyst and I am going to fight this on behalf of private game reserves that are not supported by the South African Government and that lack the finances and resources needed to ensure the protection of our rhinos.” said Searl Derman.
A contingency plan is being developed that will combine focus areas for an aggressive anti-poaching initiative. The plan entails four key elements - the increase of the reward value to appeal directly to those involved in the black market rhino horn trade; employment of a leading intelligence gathering specialist; formation of a highly skilled rapid response team including vets trained in crime scene management, who can access the right medication, and specialised life support and forensic evidence gathering equipment.
A training facility is being designed to train anti-poaching instructors and provide high tech surveillance and alarm forewarning systems that can be issued free to all private game reserves with rhino that cannot afford it. Searl Derman stated “I’ve realised how difficult it is to get the right highly restricted drugs in the case of an emergency. Many of the rural vets that are first on the scene don’t carry the large doses of antidote tranquillisers needed to revive a darted rhino. No-one has yet commissioned engineers and prosthetic specialists to design a leg support system given that muscle and organ failure (other than major stress or blood loss) are one of the leading causes of death.” These goals can only be achieved through awareness initiatives with the support of business and the general public.