Saving the Survivors was founded in 2012 by Dr. Johan Marais to attend to injured endangered wildlife that has fallen victim to poaching or traumatic incidents. He has ten years of experience working with endangered wildlife such as buffalo and elephant and it was a natural migration to fix this problem. Africa doesn’t have the time or money for the resources needed to save these animals. I spoke with Dr. Marais to receive a little more insight in these vicious attacks.
I asked why were people poaching the horns of rhinos to begin with. He explained that in the past, they were used medicinally and thought to cure cancer. These days, the rhino’s horns are as valuable as diamonds and gold. People will make jewelry out of the horn and it’s looked at as a status symbol. He also explained that in India there are types of rhinos where there are only 50-60 surviving. Even if five are killed, it’s a huge issue and dent in their population.
Once the rhino’s horn has been taken, they can survive up to two weeks, but the risk of infection is high and many of them have maggots. If the attack isn’t completely brutal meaning some of the bone is left, many of the rhinos can have their horns grow back. If the attacker takes all of the bone, the horn won’t grow back and the healing process is two years instead of three to eight months.
Over the past year, Dr. Marais and his team were able to save 80-100 rhinos with a piece they developed to go over the wound. They had to find something light weight that covered the wound and the dressings that contoured to the face, but was durable since the animal would rub its face. They realized elephant leather worked well and bound to the skin. The dressings are then changed every three to four weeks.
STS will attend to the needs of any animal that survives a poaching incident. Most of Saving the Survivors’ efforts have been directed to rhinos, given the vicious attacks many of them have fallen victim to. In addition to saving animals, their main goal is to raise awareness. Most people around the world have no idea these horrible attacks are happening. I was happy to speak to Dr. Marais and get his message out there.
This Thursday from 6-9:30 pm, Rock the Elephant® (RTE), an inaugural fundraiser will raise money for Dr. Marais and his team. Bryan McKnight is headlining the event and the event will include a “Virtual Reality Bar” where you can be immersed in a 360˚African elephant and wildlife experience, as well as silent and live auctions. Wolfgang Puck will provide the menu and premium Black Cow vodka will be serving signature drinks, Pink Elephant and Black Rhino. Dr. Johan Marais is flying in from South Africa and will be speaking at the event.