Meet the man who performed CPR on a rhino
“In that moment all I could think of was saving that rhino. I couldn’t allow her to die on my watch,” said Chris de Bruno Austin, co-CEO of Kishugu Holdings (PTY) Ltd and co-founder of the non-profit organisation, Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary NPC. Chris became an overnight internet sensation, when a video of him performing CPR on a 410 kg animal went viral.
“I reacted instinctively by initiating CPR to save her. I can’t put my relief into words when she started breathing again.”
Orphaned baby rhino, Meha, was brought to the Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary shortly after her mother was killed by poachers in the Kruger National Park early last year. Meha was just 8 months old when she first arrived at the sanctuary.
Due to the ongoing poaching crises in Southern Africa, and a number of serious poaching threats received by Care for Wild, a managerial decision was made to again dehorn all the rhinos at the sanctuary.
Rhino horn is made up primarily of keratin, the protein found in hair and nails. The removal of the horn is in no way painful to the animal, and regrows in much the same way. It is also important to note that, contrary to many cultural beliefs, rhino horn does not have any medicinal properties. The dehorning procedure is routinely performed on rhinos in captivity, in order to reduce the threat on their lives, and has proven over time to be an effective technique in the relentless fight against rhino poaching.
During this specific dehorning exercise, Meha experienced an adverse reaction to the sedative that was used for the procedure. Thankfully, due to the continuous monitoring by the SANParks veterinary response team, they immediately identified when Meha’s breathing and pulse stopped.
This prompted Chris to initiate the CPR procedure. He blew air into Meha’s nose, while several other team members engaged in chest compressions. Chris, along with the team of passionate SANParks veterinarians, refused to give up and after several painstaking minutes, Meha was successfully resuscitated and began to breathe on her own again.
“Due to the enormous size of this rhino, a combined effort was required,” explained Chris. “Rhinos are critically endangered and each rhino’s life is precious. I was willing to do everything in my power to save that ‘little’ rhino’s life – even if it meant giving that animal my last breath.”
Meha has since made a full recovery, and is currently grazing in the fields with her fellow rhino orphans. Thanks to Chris’s swift response, the world is still today, one baby white rhino richer.
DID YOU KNOW?
Saving lives, properties and protecting the environment is at the heart of Kishugu Holdings (PTY) Ltd. Through its subsidiary, Working on Fire (WOF), Kishugu helps combat devastating wildfires and often assists with rhino liftings. Its WOF- Hueys, used during aerial firefighting, are ideal for moving large game.