First thing this morning, we started out with lectures. After a debriefing about our lioness immobilisation, we talked briefly about the darting procedure and anaesthesia for a giraffe.
After the stimulating lectures, we took a trip to Born Free, located in the Shamwari Reserve. Born Free is an organisation that takes in mistreated or abandoned animals from different countries. Some of the animals they’ve taken in have come from a variety of places such as circuses, private owners and even government officials. Currently, Born Free only have a few lions due to their current reconstruction. Unfortunately, due to the conditions they were raised in, some of these lions had medical dysfunctions such as stunted growth or neurological conditions, so they cannot be released into the wild. Born Free creates a “retirement home” for these animals, the second best option since they can’t return to their natural habitat.
After lunch, we then had another lecture from Dr Fowlds. This time, we discussed parasites and different vector-borne diseases. Ectoparasites are very common for many animals here in South Africa and they can carry numerous diseases that can affect both animals and humans. It is important from a public health standpoint to be aware of these different vectors and diseases, since certain diseases and bugs are endemic to certain areas. If a disease from one area is introduced into an area that is free of that disease, there could be serious consequences!
Then, the weather was finally perfect to try to dart a baby Sable that had a cast on due to a previously broken leg. It has been very windy lately, so it was difficult to dart the Sable in order to get a closer look at her leg. A small group of us were in charge of helping to monitor the anaesthesia while Dr Fowlds examined the leg. Fortunately the bone had healed well, but there was a little wound still remaining. The group put on some ointment and sent the Sable on its way!
At the same reserve we also helped relocate a few Black Wildebeest that had a special genetic trait that gave them a golden coat. Two of our four small groups of students were in charge of the two Wildebeest and monitored their vital signs, gave them some antibiotics and vitamins and gave them a sedative to keep them calm.
After dinner, the evening was perfect for stargazing! We lay out on blankets and watched the clear night sky and saw some amazing shooting stars and constellations. We saw things that can’t be seen in the Northern Hemisphere such as the Milky Way, Scorpio, the Southern Cross and Antares. It was unbelievable how many stars you could see when there weren’t any city lights or clouds to pollute the skies. It makes you feel so small compared to the universe out there! More of the incredible beauty of Africa!
Nicole Oldfather – Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine
Ameline Azam - Ecole Veterinaire de Lyon