THE FOUR-LEGGED GOOSE IS ON THE MEND!
An update on Goose, the orphaned baby black rhino who showed us that courage comes in all shapes and sizes.
Thanks to its prime position within the Kruger National Park, Jock Safari Lodge is known for its magnificent Big Five sightings. Coupled with warm hospitality and world-class service, Jock also prides itself on its commitment to conserving and protecting the diverse flora and fauna on the concession, and within the Kruger Park.
You may recall several months ago we shared the inspiring story of the ‘four-legged Goose’ – a baby black rhino that narrowly escaped certain death with the assistance and intervention of some incredible expertise and innovative techniques. These hooked-lipped beauties are native to Eastern and Southern Africa, but due to relentless illegal poaching activities the numbers have dropped drastically to Critically Endangered status, with population numbers thought to be just over 5,000 individuals. Jock Safari Lodge, with the support of the Caleo Foundation were so pleased to have been a part of Goose’s initial supportive treatment and have been tracking her progress since.
We recently caught up Dr Peter Buss, Veterinary Senior Manager at Veterinary Wildlife Services (VWS), Kruger National Park for a full update on Goose’s recovery:
“Goose, an adult female black rhino was located in the Kruger National Park, north of Satara, in September 2018 with a severely injured right hind leg. The foot was very badly swollen, the sole had sloughed off and she was not able to walk. Goose was immobilized and brought to the Veterinary Wildlife Services (VWS) holding facilities to see if it would be possible to treat the foot and save her life. An assessment of the foot, including X-rays, indicating most of the bones in her foot (equivalent of our toes) were fractured and had become infected. It was suspected that the bones had been shattered by a bullet, probably shot by a poacher. The muscle and tendons surrounding the bones had also become infected resulting in the foot becoming grossly swollen and forcing the sole off the foot, exposing the sensitive tissue and ends of the toe bones underneath. The wound was cleaned, dressed and covered with a fibreglass cast to protect the bottom of the foot. This was a process that was repeated monthly for the next 18 months. Goose would be immobilized, the old cast removed, the wound cleaned, new dressings applied, and the foot recast each month. The redressing and casting of the foot was sponsored by Saving the Survivors and VWS was assisted in the process by Dr Johan Marias. To treat the bone infection, Goose was administered 70 antibiotic tablets daily for seven months. These types of infections are notoriously difficult to treat and it explains why it took so long to bring under control. Ms Cathy Dreyer was responsible for habituating Goose to captivity and to presence of people. She also started hand-feeding her so that the antibiotics could be administered. The tablets were crushed and put into a piece of Euphorbia, a very bitter plant but loved by black rhino – the bitterness helped mask the taste of the tablets.
Over the months of treatment and care by VWS staff, Goose’s foot gradually improved and she started to gain weight as she got used to her new circumstances and diet. The sole slowly re-grew across the bottom of the foot, initially it was thin and very susceptible to injury, but over time started to thicken and harden. By March 2020, it was felt that the sole had healed sufficiently for Goose to start walking on it without further protection and the cast was left off. Because of the severe and chronic damage to the bones, the foot will never have a normal structure however, the swelling has gone down significantly, and Goose has started to walk on it without the cast. The sole is approximately 80% healed and continues to improve and each day Goose puts more and more weight onto the leg. It is unlikely that we will be able to return Goose to the wild, but we hope to release her into a large enclosure where she will once again be able to have calves.”
This feel good news has been widely celebrated as a small win for the species and Goose has even grabbed the attention of news channels such as the recent article published in Getaway and previously Sky News. Jock Safari Lodge would like to thank all those committed to the preservation of the species and to those who boldly stand firm against poaching within the Kruger National Park, and worldwide. Together, small steps can make a difference.
Details of Goose’s recovery were provided by: Dr Peter Buss BVSc, MMedVet(wildlife), PhD. Veterinary Senior Manager: Veterinary Unit, Veterinary Wildlife Services. Kruger National Park, South African National Parks