Riding for a Purpose, Hope!
** BEWARE! GRAPHIC CONTENTS! **
This is a war, a reality, there is no sugar coating things other than tell it how it truly is!
Yesterday, Sat April 10th, I did my first big cycling event riding the 39 mile section in the Tony Serano Century Ride. They had a 10 miles, 39 miles, 62 miles and then the century 100 miles. The most miles I have ever done on my Cannondale Synapse was 15 miles, a few weeks after I switched over from my Mountain Bike to a Road Bike.
Charlie entered us a week ago, so there wasn't much time left to prep for it. This was my first cycling event and I wanted this to count for something, so I decided to use the page Saving the Survivors set up to raise funds for the medical procedures Hope still has to go through to restore her face.
Never did I expect the overwhelming support that I received in such a short notice. For the first time I felt I am really doing something for this amazing White Rhino that has gone through so much incredible pain and horror.
The ride was made even harder with the 25 mph winds that we had on Saturday. So difficult that many experienced riders decided to cut their 62 miles and 100 miles short because of the winds and gusts. The last 3-5 miles was the hardest for me. Riding into these heavy winds took everything out of my lungs, my legs and my muscles but throughout it all I kept on thinking about what Hope has gone through so far. It was nothing compared to Hope's experiences, I can do this!!
One of the most amazing things that happened during this ride was during our first rest stop. I was lying on the grass to stretch out my back when I noticed another rider with a Rhino on his vest. Charlie went over and started talking to him about his vest. It had nothing to do with raising awareness for our Rhinos but when John Razzolini heard the story about Hope, he took his vest off and said, "you need to ride with this, for this Rhino", and helped me put it on. I was just so overwhelmed and excited that someone would do this because of Hope.
Imagine being darted, sedated and then to wake up in your own pool of blood, bewildered, dazed, confused, terrified and not understanding what just happened. We can see the terrible wounds on Hope's face, but do we really understand the trauma, pain and horror this beautiful and very innocent creature must have experienced. During the sedation she might have been immobilized but she very well still could have been aware.
Strange voices, strange smells, then feeling how something is hacking away at your face, feeling the warmth of the blood that is just pouring from the wound, the smell of so much blood, and then eventually waking up in your own pool of blood. Can we truly understand all she has experienced.
I can only thank God that she was found in time. And even through this huge attempt to save her life, she had to be darted, moved to a strange place with unfamiliar surroundings several times. She had to be darted over and over again to do very necessary procedures on her face to make sure no necrosis takes place, no infection, to keep maggots out at all times and in return help the wound to start restoring itself and tissue to grow back.
It was uncharted waters for all the veterinarians involved as well. Dr Johan Marais explained why Hope and the experiences they gained through the procedures performed on her to help save this beautiful Girl, was so important. Every Rhino is worth saving, especially if there are only a few hundred left, every single survivor counts even more now and being able to successfully treat every single survivor in order to minimize losses is incredibly important.
The work these vets perform on the ground, in the bush, no matter whether it is a Rhino or any other endangered wildlife, is crucial and many times their work and effort goes unnoticed. I truly can imagine the emotional trauma they go through at times, I have been involved in animals all my life and (at times unfortunately) feel so much and so intensely for them, what they go through and what they feel. It can hurt tremendously and takes a lot out of you mentally and emotionally!
You have to try and put yourself in the survivors "shoes", imagine how you would have felt like when what happened to them, happened to you and your family. it is very intense and very traumatic.
I did it, my first 39 mile cycling event, though chilly pounding 20 mph winds, for this beautiful girl, her name is Hope!
“Through the work that Saving the Survivors does, this rhino, Hope, is giving victims of poaching a voice which cries out to the world for our help. She is becoming a living symbol of this poaching crisis, and an inspirational example of the fight for survival against seemingly insurmountable odds. Her struggle to claim back her life and her dignity must become our fight to change human behaviour and restore value and respect and care fo