The Kruger National Park is full of feel good stories and none more so than that of a little black rhino named Goose. Despite poaching attempts to end her life, she clearly has what it takes to survive.
The black rhino was once widespread in Africa, with up to a million animals found across the continent. During the second half of the 20th century, 97% of the population was lost, and relentless poaching continues to threaten what remains. Rhino poaching is still rife in the Kruger National Park as rhino horn carries an extremely high value on the black market. It is typically illegally exported to the far East for its alleged medicinal properties. In reality however, rhino horn is only composed of keratin (the same components as the human fingernail).
Goose was found having been shot several times in the foot by self-seeking poachers and left to die. Bones were protruding through her skin and her hoof had been further damaged by continued walking. Typically, if an animal is found wandering around the veld severely emaciated, malnourished and on the point of death, one would probably euthanise it, but in the case of Goose, due to her Critically Endangered status, a vast team of skilled experts and organisations sprang into action to do everything they could to save her. She captured the hearts of the team at Jock Safari Lodge who with the go ahead from the non-profit CALEO Foundation, readily sponsored the initial antibiotics and supportive treatment vital for her survival.
There is no blueprint for this type of work on big game animals, so specialist vets created an innovative protection method using tough elephant pelt to bind Goose’s hoof. This is then covered in layers of bandage and ultimately coated in fibreglass for added protection, creating a bespoke cast which is changed every few weeks.
Saving Goose has not come cheap, yet many who have been involved from the start have generously given their expertise and precious time for free believing that her potential for breeding and the survival of her species far outweighs the cost of her treatment.
Sky news spent some time with the team taking care of Goose and you can read more about the treatment and care involved here.