Category Archives: Travel & International

Vetty content from around the globe.

Cry Me a (Safari) River

Rhino mother and calfWow! Quite an emotional episode of Safari Vet School this week – I could feel the water table in my own eyes rising slightly whilst watching. The main focus of this week’s adventures were Rhino, and in particular the problems associated with poaching, which is unfortunately on the rise. Rhino horn is a much coveted component of many traditional Chinese remedies and there is an increased demand for such products, and with it a sad upsurge in the demand for Rhino horn. One of the main issues with poaching is that the poachers do not have the skills, knowledge, or regard for the Rhino’s welfare to even attempt to harvest horn humanely and sustainably, either cutting them off in such a way that leaves the animals mutilated and doomed to suffer a long, painful, lingering demise, or to just kill them outright, which is a criminal waste of life.

The show touched upon the story of Will, the head vet at the reserve, who had to suffer putting a Rhino he had seen grow up being destroyed as a result of poaching activity. Quite an upsetting thing for any person, let alone vet, to have to do. It did make me think, however, that every vet is faced with the harsh realities of life’s unfairness in various forms during the course of their daily lives, even in daily, general practice. Whether it be the case of the misguided and uneducated owners unwittingly buying a puppy from a puppy farm, or not engaging in simple routine preventative healthcare, such as lungworm control, with the result being that you, as a vet, have the task of fighting to save that pet, or even cases of deliberate animal cruelty. I still cannot get my head around how anyone can condone or even be involved, directly or otherwise, in animal cruelty acts such as dog fighting or physically abusing an animal. These are the sad examples of unfair animal exploitation that occur here, in our country, and are not, to my mind, too dissimilar to the issues facing the Safari Vet School team this week, albeit with obviously different causes and repercussions. It seems to me, however, that the common underlying issue in all such examples is education – if only people really, truly understood the implications of their actions then I predict that animal cruelty and ‘unfairness’ would be but a sporadic event.

On a more upbeat, less soap-boxy note, it was awesome to see how genuinely thrilled Camilla was with her experiences of microchipping and blood sampling the Rhino. That’s one of the great things about Vet School and veterinary in general: the series of ‘firsts’ that you get to be involved in, from performing your first caesarian and delivering healthy puppies, to your first fracture repair, right the way through to your first Rhino encounter 🙂 Nice one!

To learn more about the issue of Rhino poaching and how to get involved in putting a halt to it, check out the Team Rhino website by clicking here.

Two of the most motivating words ever: “Can’t” & “Never”

LionManaged to catch up on Safari Vet School thanks to the good old ITV iPlayer (did I mention how much I love my iPad?!). This week’s episode saw the team of vet students and safari vets take on darting and surgically implanting a tracking device into a lioness, which was pretty nerve-wracking stuff, and then finish up with a mass capture of Zebra, who apparently can kill with a single kick, something that anyone who has worked with horses will appreciate. Of course I’m not saying that rounding up a herd of Zebra is anything like working with your standard hack but the power and innate unpredictability of large animals – well, in fact ANY animal – is something that’s important to always have in the back of your mind as a vet.

One of the stand-out parts of the show for me was the point at which Charlotte was recalling the advice she received whilst at school, regarding her ambitions to become a vet. She was advised to “have a plan B” and to “give up,” something which I hear a lot of from prospective vet students. Yes, it’s a tough course to apply to and yes, it’s not a bad idea to consider, even for a fleeting moment, what you might do if, all things going awry, you don’t succeed with applying, but to be told to give up just seems ridiculous. One of the main issues I have identified through advising prospective vet school applicants and through my book is that many careers advisers (I use the term in the very broad sense to include teachers who are not necessarily careers ‘specialists’) don’t fully understand the unique nuances of preparing for and applying to vet school and as such, rather than seek to fill the gaps in their knowledge so that they can better inform and guide their students, it is often easier to revert to the assumed misconceptions about veterinary being “impossibly hard” to get into and to thus encourage other career options to be pursued. I wonder how many really fantastic vets we may be missing out on simply as a result of a student being told at that critical point in their young lives to “give up.” It’s something to ponder. Good on Charlotte though for sticking to her guns and focusing on her ultimate aim of getting to vet school – if she hadn’t been so determined then darting lions in Africa would have been but a hazy daydream!