Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Monday 28th July

Today was a really special day for all of us. More work with Rhinos!

Knowing that Rhinos are being illegally poached worldwide, our Vets Go Wild Team was called once again to help prevent those attacks. After a really early wake up, we went onto a Game Reserve well known by its Rhinos.

Unfortunately, this second encounter with White Rhinos was once again to dehorn these amazing creatures.  This procedure is nowadays the most efficient way of saving our Rhinos from poaching.  However, many poachers still try to hunt dehorned Rhinos because it’s impossible to completely remove their horns.

What made this day so special? We were surrounded by photographers, journalists and all kinds of media professionals who recorded the procedure and learned what Dr Fowlds had to teach. Many interviews were made and many photos were taken. In the end, local journals, South Africa TV and Facebook pages published the entire work done in the morning. Even our International Vets Go Wild Team raised awareness by being part of most of the photos. The most interesting one was taken with all the different nationalities of students in the course using pieces of Rhino horn to make fake nails after the first procedure.

The substance in the Rhino horn – keratin – has been used worldwide, particularly in Asia, as medicine or decor and is made of exactly the same substance as our nails and hair.  Has anyone ever cured a terrible disease such as cancer by eating hair or nails? NO! Do you want to have a wedding gift made by Rhino horn?  Clearly no!

With all the dehorning done and news of Dr Fowlds’ work well spread, we hope that more awareness about this environmental problem has been shared.  Today, besides the English, French and Portuguese signs, we also used a Vietnamese one to raise awareness in the East, where most of the Rhino horn trade is occurring.

During the afternoon we had more lectures about wildlife diseases given by Christa van Wessem. It was a very interesting subject, especially learning about the infectious diseases that concern the wildlife vets and zoo vets.

Then it was time for a game drive in Amakhala, with the sunset to provide us great photos of the African fauna and flora!  In the evening the team decided that it was time for a movie, and what better movie to watch in Africa, after all the veterinary work done in the last few days, than the Lion King? Who knows but maybe tomorrow we could do some work with real life lions…

Written by Barbara Ferreira, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Lisbon, Portugal
and Nicole Oldfather, Iowa State University, College of Veterinary Medicine


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. What an exciting day for you all and well-deserved publicity for everyone! Keep up the good work!! Wish we could see the photos of the game drive though!