South African rhino named Hope gets facial reconstruction

May 11, 2016 by By Christopher Torchia

A year ago, a South African rhino survived a horrific attack by poachers who hacked off her horns and part of her face. This month, the rhino dubbed Hope is undergoing new facial reconstruction to reduce the wound over her exposed sinus cavities.

Wildlife veterinarians have fixed medical elastic bands across the rhino's wound and will assess the results next week. The bands are meant to act like shoelaces, stretching skin on both sides closer together. The equipment, designed for human patients with abdominal wounds, was provided by Canadian company Southmedic through its South African distributor, Surgitech.

"We're confident in the way that it works with human skin, and hoping that the same reaction will happen with the rhino skin," Genna Woodrow, a Southmedic manager, said in a telephone interview from the company's headquarters in Barrie, Ontario.

Often, with a human patient, such elastic bands are left exposed because they are adjusted frequently. However, veterinarians applied a protective dressing to the rhino's wound to keep it clean.

Hope was darted by poachers, who severed her while she was sedated, exposing her and nasal passage. She has been cared for by Saving the Survivors , a group that treats with and other poaching injuries.

South Africa, home to most of the world's rhinos, has struggled to curb the slaughter of rhinos, whose horns are coveted in parts of Asia, particularly Vietnam. Some consumers believe the horns have medicinal benefits. There is no evidence to support that: The horn is made of keratin, a protein also found in fingernails.

Hope has regrown a small amount of horn since the attack, said Chris du Plessis, product manager at Surgitech. He described it as a "miracle."

Explore further: S. Africa may re-consider regulated rhino horn trade in future

More information:

Related Stories

South African medics make big effort to save Hope the rhino

June 9, 2015

The horns and a large portion of the rhino's face were severed by poachers, a horrific injury that had some observers wincing at the sight of exposed flesh and bone. One South African veterinarian treating the mutilated survivor ...

Recommended for you

Three genes essential for cells to tell time

March 20, 2018

One family of genes allows cells to adapt to daily changes in environmental conditions by adjusting the circadian clock responsible for regular sleep-wake cycles. The new discovery by University of Tokyo scientists reveals ...

World's last male northern white rhino, Sudan, dies

March 20, 2018

The world's last male northern white rhino, Sudan, has died after "age-related complications," researchers announced Tuesday, saying he "stole the heart of many with his dignity and strength."


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.