The University of Pretoria’s (UP) Faculty of Veterinary Science in Onderstepoort and Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary have conducted the first successful CT scan of a live adult rhino in South Africa. This is a milestone in veterinary healthcare and diagnostic imaging as well as rhino conservation.
Orphaned by poachers in 2015, white rhino Oz was rescued and brought to Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary for rehabilitation, release and ongoing protection. Earlier this year, rhino monitors reported an unusual swelling on the animal’s face.
Sanctuary founder and CEO Petronel Nieuwoudt consulted with veterinarian Dr Albertus Coetzee of West Acres Animal Hospital, and further discussions were had with wildlife veterinarian Dr Jacques O’Dell, senior lecturer and wildlife clinician in UP’s Department of Production Animal Studies, and Professor Gerhard Steenkamp, veterinary dentistry specialist and maxillofacial surgeon at UP. With the support of Louis van Wyk of Wildlifevets.com, a decision was made to transport the one-ton bull to the Onderstepoort Veterinary Academic Hospital for further investigation.
The CT scan revealed a tooth root abscess and appropriate treatment was subsequently performed. Oz is now back at the Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary and eating and drinking well.
The collaboration was a landmark moment in veterinary healthcare, and in rhino care and rehabilitation. The logistical experience, information and knowledge gained from this is “phenomenal progress” in the fight to save a keystone species from extinction, the vets said. “We cannot save a species alone, but together we can achieve remarkable things,” Nieuwoudt said. “In acknowledgement of the team of specialists who came together, we thank them for their passion, dedication and immense commitment.”