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Final Years starts..

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Glasgow University has changed the structure of final year to now be a 52 week year- so that everyone has the most practical experience they can, before graduating as veterinarians.

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I started my final year on Small animal core rotation, starting with the Dogs trust in Glasgow. This is a surgery rotation meant to let us spay/ castrate dogs. Because I got so much experience In Cyprus when I went do see EMS there, I was pretty confident. Each rotation we have to pass something called a DOPS, which is based of “day one competent” tasks we are meant to be able to do. I was DOPSed on a bitch spay the first day and passed  =). 

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The next week I was on Dermatology, ophthalmology and rabbits. The week started with ophthalmology at the Glasgow small animal hospital with George Peplinski. We spent the day sitting in on all his consultations- getting to assess the animals that came in. I was a bit sad that we only had one day on ophthalmology because I enjoyed it so much at Willows referral hospital, aspecially that we didn’t get to see any surgeries. Tuesday and Thursday we were on Dermatology on a practice outside of Glasgow in Paisley, working with Pete Forsynthe in Derm referrals. He was a great teacher and made sure we knew how to do dermatological clinical exam on the patients that came in, along with dermatological sampling, cytology and allergy testing. I had a DOPS on dermatological exam of a hyper springer spaniel, but passed this one as well. Wednesday we were doing rabbit spay/castrations with miss Livia Benato. We weren’t that lucky with the rabbit spays for this day. Two rabbit were schedules for a spay, but one had complications during induction which lead to the surgery being pushed on week, and the next rabbit had a scar on its linea albae. When we opened up, it was discovered that the rabbit was already spayed previously. Therefore most of the day went to rabbit husbandry and handling instead. 

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In the weekend I was asked to Guide the buss for the International society of Glasgow to Alnwick castle, which is also known as Hogwarts, where a lot of the harry potter films were filmed. It was a beautiful castle and a really fun day out with Broomstick flying & Medieval fancy dress. Too bad the weather wasn’t too great down in England. The weather in Glasgow had really been amazing the past weeks with temperatures up to 30’c. 

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This past week I was consulting for the PDSA aid hospital in Glasgow. I got to consult some of the clients that came in, then the vet had a look and I had to tell him what was wrong, formulate a plan and then talk to the owner and do what was needed. I really enjoyed this form of teaching. It made me feel like a vet, as well as I had the backup from the vet to be sure I wasn’t diagnosing the animal wrong. We had everything from dogs, cats, puppies, kittens, budgies, rabbits etc. It was a lively clinic with a variety of different clinical presentations. PDSA is a veterinary practice for people on housing benefits who can afford the ordinary vets. I really like that there is a place, so that these animals are seen to, even when their owners can’t afford the vet. Although most of what we did was free to the clients, there were a few health/ welfare issues where the owners had left things too long before bringing the animals in. we didn’t have to put any animals down, but severe/ long term treatment was needed on some of the cases. 

ImageNext week i’m in the PDSA as well, but this time on the surgery rotation, so I’m looking forward to that =) 

ImageAlso I’d like you all too meet a new individual in my life. Below picture is my new dog Tasha. She’s an 11 week old labradoodle girl. I got here yesterday and she’s very well so far. 

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Willows veterinary centre

These two weeks I’m placed at Willows referral hospital, which is located in Solihull, West Midlands near Birmingham. Willows offer EMS to final year students, and seeing I passed all my exams my first stop before starting rotations started here.

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Willows is a first class hospital for animals that offers: orthopaedics, ophthalmology, anaesthesia & analgesia, internal medicine, soft tissue surgery, neurology and diagnostic imaging as well as having a first opinion small animal clinic. During the 2 week placement I get to follow different cases in all the different disciplines to get a taster of what the specialist field is like. Each patient often receives care from several different teams. I honestly think that these animal hospitals are set up better than many of the human hospitals. I would join the vet of a certain discipline for consults in the morning until around midday. If the patient required surgery, it would be scheduled to undergo diagnostic imaging and then surgery the same day and under the same anaesthetic and either be sent home the same evening or the next day, depending on if the patient had recovered properly.

Treatment room

Treatment room

If a patient required special attention the hospital had an ICU ward, where the patients received one to one nursing and checks. The nurses that work at willows knew a lot. There were specific nurses for the different allocated areas, weather it was the dog ward/ cat ward, pharmacy, MRI/ CT nurses, prep room nurses or operating nurses, just like for human hospitals. These nurses had all undergone special training. It seemed to make the hospital run more smoothly.

CT

CT

If a patient came from consultations and was now scheduled for a surgery, the patient would get a willows collar with its name written on it (kind of like a hospital wrist band), if the veterinary surgeon was ready to see it in the operating theatre at that point, he would be clipped, the nurse would place an IV Catheter, there would be an anaesthetist vet to write up the drugs it was to get, in the case that it had any special considerations for the anaesthesia e.g: heart murmur, airway problems, geriatric, obese, kidney problems etc. If the animal required x rays for the surgery, the nurses would then take it to the radiography room where they positioned the animals and took the x rays for the vet to have a look at right before surgery. The animal would already be induced by this point, and they had anaesthetic trolleys that they transported the patient to the prep room for the operation.

Prep Room

Prep Room

Having these trolleys would prevent the animal being carried, each of the trolleys had isoflurane anaesthesia attached, a breathing system and oxygen so that the patient could be transported sleeping.  Once in the prep room all the nursing staff had to wear blue coloured scrubs (vs green for the rest of the hospital) and head caps. The animal was then either induced (if it hadn’t had images taken beforehand) or just prepared, where the surgical site would be cleaned. Once the animal was in the operating theatre the surgical site would be cleaned by a trained nurse again before the site would be draped. All the veterinary surgeons would have to scrub in and put on gowns before operating to ensure that this was as sterile an environment as possible. A nurse would sit and monitor the anaesthesia for the patient throughout the operation and keep records of heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, oxygen etc.

Treatment room

Treatment room

Once the operation was done the animal would be taken out to the treatment room where they would be closely monitored before waking up, given their pain relief and any other medications given before being placed in the kennels. There was a kennel staff who would take patients out for walks as well as making sure the kennels were clean at all times.

My first two days I got to work with Orthopaedics. IToby Gemmill and Stephen Kalff, was lucky to work with Toby Gemmill and Stephen Kalff consulting on initial referrals or post operative care patients. In the afternoon each day they did TPLO’s which is the abbreviation for tibial plateau levelling osteotomy which is a surgical procedure used to treat cranial crucuate ligament rupture in the knee joints of (often large) dogs. This involved changing the angle of the top of the shin bone (the tibial plateau) by cutting the bone, rotating it, and TPLOstabilising it in a new position with a plate and screws. Cranial cruciate ligament rupture is one of the most common causes of hind limb lameness in dogs so these surgeons did a lot of this type of surgery.

Wednesday I moved onto Ophthalmology with Mike Rhodes and Carolin Chiwitt.opth Here I got to see Cataract surgery, keratectomy and cherry eye surgery. Cataracts are an opacity or clouding in the lens in the eye. The lens is normally crystal clear but looks black because the darkness inside the eye. The lens is there to focus light on the sensitive tissue at the back of the eye (retina). Cataracts often form in both eyes and often get worse. It’s more common in older dogs and can be inherited.

phacoemulsification

phacoemulsification

The only treatment is surgery (but some cataracts are not operable). The surgery is under full general anaesthetic and with a muscle relaxant and then preformed under an operating microscope with tiny instruments. Two small cuts are made in the window of the eye (cornea) and the iris. The eye is filled with a viscoelastic gel to inflate the eye and protect the structures inside.  The cataract is then removed though the hole in the capsule using phacoemulsification which is an ultrasound procedure which is also used on human cataracts. After the surgery a special artificial lens is placed where the old lens was, permanent buried deep inside the eye. The surgery wounds are closed with tiny dissolving stitches. Most dogs will actually see on the day after surgery.

Cherry eye is a condition where the third eyelid gland has prolapsed. Dogs have a third eyelid which sweeps back and forth across the surface of the eye protecting and spreading tear film (also called nictitating membrane) which produced 60% of the tear production of the eye. When it prolapses it becomes visible as a pink mass (lump) near the inner corner of the eye. This condition often affects dogs than cats and young animals between 6 to 12mo.

Cherry eye & Pocket technique

Cherry eye & Pocket technique

Some dogs are predisposed as well: bulldogs, Shih Tzu, Lhasa Apso, Cocker Spaniels, Great Danes and Mastiffs. It can be quite painful and make the eye dry so surgery is recommended, but not to remove it. Pocket technique was carried out at willows where a little pocket is made and the gland is put into it and stitched closed. It sounds like simple thing to do, but this is also done under a microscope with tiny instruments. Ophthalmology is definatly something for the steady handed surgeons.

Friday was Anaesthesia and Analgesia day where I worked with Alessandra Mathis & Anna Bryla. Most of the procedures at Willows will need some kind of sedation, even X rays, Ultrasound scanning or surgery. There are many different types of anaesthetic drugs and many different conditions which require precautions or use of other drugs. Its therefore important to have a good knowledge about patients with often several problems at once, can and cannot get, to prevent drug interactions and other complications.

anaesthesia

New week started and I was placed with Soft Tissue surgery with Chris Shales and Stephen Baines. Here I saw surgeries like Tie backs with Laryngeal Paralysis, Porto systemic (liver) shunt surgery and Linear Foreign body removal. Laryngeal paralysis is when there if a functional failure of the larynx opening the vocal cords during inspiration (breathing in). Most cases are older larger breeds like Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Weimeraners, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Great Danes etc. Dogs will typically present with a noise when breathing in, coughing, weight loss, reduced exercise tolerance, collapse, reduced tolerance for temperatures, altered phonation (Bark), problems swallowing food/ water, and sudden respiratory distress. A patient doesn’t have to show all of these symptoms. The condition is caused by a dysfunction of one or both the recurrent laryngeal nerves which supply the muscles holding the vocal cords open during breathing. Treatment which is most effective is surgery “Tieback” also called Unilateral Arythenoid Lateralisation (UAL). Which is basically permanently fixing one of the patient’s vocal cords in an open position. 90-95% who have this procedure will improve significantly, but there are some minor complications which can occur as well.

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A portal systemic shunt is a blood vessel anomaly that results in the blood from the abdominal organs (small bowel, large bowel, stomach etc) being diverted to the heart or bypassing the liver. This can be a birth defect (congenital port systemic shunt) or acquired if there is a chronic disease. The problem with having a shunt is that nutrients and toxins that should be cleared from the circulation now bypasses the normal portal blood flow to the liver and results in a small liver and build up toxins in the bloodstream which can cause nervous symptoms. The patients often lack necessary substances to give a good supply of energy and therefore have a stunted growth. The surgery I saw was a puppy only 5 mo old. The patients can present with poor muscle development, behavioural abnormalities (walking in circles, disoriented, unresponsive, quiet, staring into space, pressing head into surfaces) and seizures. A portovenogram was done during surgery which is an x ray examination which allows the liver shunt to be accurately visualised during surgery. A vein draining the small bowel is injected with dye which contrasts on the x ray showing the abnormal liver shunt. Surgery is very complex and dangerous for the animal, which involved locating the shunting vessel and closing it to re direct blood through the liver. This might have to be done gradually by placing a cellophane band around the vessel which causes gradual closure over 4 to 6 weeks, giving the liver time to develop without producing an excessively high blood pressure.

internal meds

Wednesday and Thursday I was on Internal Medicine with Kirsty Roe, Isuru Gajanayake and Amy Lam. Cases with pancreatitis, hypoglycaemic puppies and thrombocytopenia was seen.  Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed (tender and swollen). It occurs mostly in middle ages to older dogs, breeds like Cocker Spaniels and Terrier breeds. Symptoms ranged from mild signs (reduced appetite) to very severe illness (multiple organ failure). Most commonly it causes lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhoea. It’s diagnosed with the history along with abdominal pain on examination, but because so much else can cause these symptoms a blood test and ultrasound scan of the abdomen is needed to rule out other conditions.

MRI

MRI

Today was unfortunately my last day here at Willows. I was placed with Neurology and Raquel Trevail who had done here residence in Glasgow when I started vet school. We had some follow up cases and also had a patient with Traumatic disc extrusion – slip disc which is when a small fragment of material from the centre of the disc suddenly breaks free and travel through the outer ring of the disc and collides with the delicate spinal cord. Diagnosing this was done with an MRI scan of the animal which I find quite amazing. Willows had a special Diagnostic team who works with Ultrasound, CT and MRI for all the cases that need imaging. Paul Mahoney, Andrew Parry, Lizza Baines and Andrew Tanner are all specialist in Diagnostic imaging to make the best diagnosis and make each sequencing required specially for that animal and that current problem. These two weeks have gone very quickly and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with so many great vets & not to forget the nurses. I hope I’ll come back here sometime in the future.

All the best
Annette

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Ps: Pictures are from Willows facebook or their website www.willows.uk.net

 

 

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Today was a big mile stone in my path to becoming a vet. Next year (our final year) we have rotations so this was our final day of lectures!!! It was a strange feeling. After 3 years of undergrad BSc and then now another 4 years, Im not going to have ANY more lectures. It’s a bittersweet feeling really. Its been a long road just to get this far. We have exams starting in  2 weeks so we still have a bit to go of 4th year, but hopefully this year will pass like all the rest and we can finally start doing what we will do for the rest of our lives.  Scary to think next year this time will be getting ready to graduate as the BVMS Class of 2014 =)ImageImage

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Exams coming up

Hey guys sorry i haven’t been writing for a while. will try and post something in a bit.

I’m currently going to lectures, the gym and then library until midnight every day so have no life 😛

Running out of time to study for my last round of exams

I finished my last day here in South Africa treating a rhino for an abscess on her hindquarters. She was darted from a helicopter, when running with 2 other grown rhinos and a calf about 8 months old. I was on the ground leading the “buckie” (truck) to where the helicopter instructed me to go when the animal was darted, and saw the rhinos running over the open grass field. I can’t explain the feeling of awe that went over me looking at these magnificent creatures. They got as close as just 20m away from me; full grown rhinos with horns! Unfortunately, it’s not often you see them with horns anymore. The reason for this is poaching.

Facts about rhinos killed in southern Africa is shocking. In 2009, 122 were killed; in 2010, 333 were killed; in 2011 448 were killed, including 19 critically endangered black rhinos. 200 were shot by pseudo hunters, 28 poached in Zimbabwe, 27 poached in Kenya and two poached in Swaziland reaching a shocking 705. In 2012, 281 had been killed by the end of July and it’s expected that this number will reach 595 by the end of this year. Numbers are increasing almost daily (facts from Getaway Sept 2012).

There has not been any medical proof found by traditional medicine that the popular myth that rhino horns (ground to powder) is an aphrodisiac is true. A politician in Vietnam ran a television campaign about how rhino horn cured his cancer, which caused an increase in demand. Other than that it’s believed that it reduced inflammation, fever and hangovers. In Yemen, the horns are used as a handle for daggers that men own. The fact that rhino horn is illegal and so rare causes the black market prices to rocket. A 2 kg rhino horn can go for 2 million South African rand. Seeing as minimum wage is so low in South Africa, poaching is therefore an alternative some choose to supplement their income. If successful they can earn a lot. A grown rhino can have horns up to 6 kg. Another problem is speculators who hedging against rhino extinction.

There are a lot of corrupt people in the anti rhino poaching industry as well. At the moment there is a trial going where a game farmer and two vets are charged with killing more than 39 rhinos and selling their horns on the black market. The cost of a rhino is a fraction of what you can get for its horn, so some game farmers might be tempted to hunt their own rhinos for their horns. I asked a farmer who said that the cost of a rhino could be around 240 000 R, whilst its horn several million. I find it horrible that vets, who are there to look out for the welfare of such animals, could be in on this. It doesn’t help the public’s trust in the vets that actually do good.

Poachers don’t always know how to properly kill the rhinos when they shoot them. They therefore often leave them hurt to the point that they die a slow death. The poachers won’t hesitate to start dehorning the animal whilst it’s still alive. I heard that poachers will shot the calf as well if there is one. The calves do not have horns, but because they often stay with their mums, the poachers are often afraid of them. Therefore rangers can end up finding both the female and calf rhino dead. I was told that the vet I worked with was called out once when the female rhino had been poached. The calf was found next to her alive, but soon after the calf got really sick. When the vet came, he found
that the calf had been shot too, but at a place that wasn’t very visible. The shot had penetrated the chest cavity right next to the right front shoulder, which penetrated the lung and diaphragm on the right side. This unfortunately caused the calf to die a few days later.

So I’ll try and write about some of the good the vets do to prevent poaching, from my experience the past weeks. Some farmers choose to dehorn their rhinos to prevent the animals being killed by poachers. If they don’t have any horns, there won’t be a reason for them to shoot the rhinos. The vet would dart the animal from a helicopter, then monitor its anesthetics safely, whilst using a chain saw to cut off the two horns. Care has to be taken not to cut too deeply, because this can cause blood loss. The process is documented with photos and a person from the government wildlife conservative has to be present. The vet also has to apply for a permit to do the procedure, which last
a month at the time. After the horn is cut, diesel is poured on the horns and they are burned to ash, which is documented again. A problem with the application to get a permit is that this process is very slow and by the time the vet gets his licensed for the needed rhino, it might have been poached in the meantime. Another problem with dehorning the rhino is that the female rhino uses its horn to defend her calf from the male rhinos, which can cause the calf to die if the mother can’t protect it.

Another approach is to microchip the horns. Another farmer we visited didn’t want his rhinos to live without their horns. They lose their pride and beauty if you take away their horn. So in this case the rhinos are darted. Then a small hole is drilled in each of the two horns and a micro chip is inserted into the horn. The drilled out bit is placed in jars, along with blood samples and some pieces of hair. This is all sent to a lab to be DNA profiled. If a rhino poacher is caught and some form of DNA is found with the poacher it can be traced back to that killed rhino and the person can be trialed. The problem with this again is that it won’t prevent the poacher from killing the rhinos in the first place. A person who has a permit to keep a rhino horn, will have to have a microchip in the horn, there are then people who come and check yearly that the person has not sold that horn on the black marked.

It is horrifying to think that these magnificent animals might become extinct in my lifetime!

This year 2012 is the 150th anniversary of the Glasgow University School of veterinary Medicine was founded by James McCall in 1862.

The 5to 7th of October we had a “New Horizons Research Symposium” providing both history and current perspectives on veterinary research at Glasgow. It was amazing to see how big a contribution Glasgow vet school is making to the research in its field and made as all very proud to be a Glasgow vet student. The final James McCall Memorial lecture was delivered by out former dean Professor Stuart Reid, who is not the principal of the Royal Veterinary College in London.  All the student came for the Friday lectures. But all in all there were over 400 alumni that came from all over the world for the weekend events.

I also bought a book that has been published: The Glasgow veterinary school 1862-2012). If anyone else wants to buy it. I can be bough online www.universityofglasgowshops.com or at amazon.

James Herriot books has always been a great pride of the Glasgow vets. Alf Wight – pen name James Herriot graduated from Glasgow. For the 150year anniversary his son Jim Wight came and had a talk to all the student: very inspirational as a vet student.  His also given an interview you can watch here:

Jim Wight Interview

James McCall founded the Glasgow Veterinary College in 1862, one hundred years after the establishment of the first Veterinary School in Europe. The first class had 10 students enrolled and lectures lasted three hours a day. The fees at the time for the three year veterinary course were 16 pounds for the first year, 18 pounds for the second and 20 pounds for the third. The student numbers continued to increase and one hundred and forty-three student had enrolled by 1894.

Glasgow Vet 150 years

Today the university of Glasgow veterinary school is pre- eminent in teaching, research and clinical provision. They have researchers, clinicians and students from around the world providing an expert referral institution for Small animals at the Small Animal Hospital, Horses at the Weipers centre for Equine Welfar and Farm animals at the Scottish  centre for production animal health and welfare.  Glasgow also keeps getting awards for its research not only in Scotland but around the UK as well.  The school is also accredited with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The north American veterinary licensing education (NAVLE) pass rate is up to 87% for 2011. We also became associated with SCAVMA(Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association ) last year as the first UK vet school, in addition to our Accreditation with, RCVS (Royal collage of veterinary Surgons), BVA (British veterinary Association) and BSAVA (British Small animal Veterinary association) plus a few more =)

Glasgow school of veterinary medicine is located on 80 hectare on the northwest boundary of Glasgow city, about 30 minutes from the main university at Gilmorehill. The school has 190 hectars commercial farm and research centre at Cochno, 15 minutes from the Garscube campus. There is about 179 staff: academic, research and support with additional 65 postgraduate research students and 30 post graduate clinical scholars and 500 undergraduate students here.

The university of Glasgow is constantly pushing their students to the limit academically and clinically. They emphasise that being a student is not only in the classroom but in the veterinary community as a whole. Being a good veterinarian isn’t just about small animals or large animals, it’s about incorporating veterinary medicine into our lives and giving back to the community, wether that’s is here in Scotland, Africa, India, Scandinavia or America. They focus on producing well rounded veterinarians that have the ability to flourish once they graduate and enter the great big world.

Me and Professor Stuart Reid

Me and our old Anatomy Professor Jack Boyd

All in all I can say that I’m proud to be a 4th year vet student here at Glasgow. I’m lucky to have the chance to be a part of their family. Cos that’s that we are here at Glasgow- one big Family

Vets & Wildlife week 2

We started the Monday by going to a farm which had a very big herd of buffalo. Buffalo are one of the big 5 here in Africa and is though to be the most dangerous one of them. They are very destructive in their path, ruining trees and branches and can be quite aggressive if one come to close. Especially when they have calves. The buffalo bulls could weight over 1 ton. Marius went up in the helicopter and darted them from the air. Then once the animals were falling asleep the trucks came driving up closer to that one animal. Because they were so heavy we only did 1-2 at the time. Once the animal hit the ground we all ran up to the animal to make sure if was breathing ok, keep it head and body upright. The black workers had stretchers that they got under the animals. Then there wee 16-17 people lifting that one animal up onto the truck. The truck drove the animal to the enclosure where it was spending the next days and it was lifted off the truck again

We injected them with antibiotics for the dart wound and other vitamin, vaccines etc. The buffalo skin was measure and injected with avian (on left) and bovine (on right) TB to be tested for TB, by a new measurement in 3 days. Because their skin is so thick it can be hard to take blood form the cephalic vein and we therefore got to practice taking blood from the air vein. After we were done with this, which had taken most of the day because we could only take 2 at the time, the farmer said he had 30 wilderbeest he wanted moved as well. They were darted 4 at the time and transported to the camps they were moving to, then we gave then antibiotics etc and I got to give some of them a reversal to wake them up through the ear vein. The wilderbeest was moved by truck as well, but the workers didn’t really know how to handle the animals and unfortunately one of them died of asphyxiation because of a handler that carried the animal upside down to the truck.

Tuesday we went to Chad place at castle de wilt again. This time we darted 70 wilderbeest, both golden, blue and black to pregnancy check then in addition to the normal injections and blood sampling of the pregnant once. Because the animals were already stressed and heated from the chase to be darted, the pregnancy could be quite fragile. We therefore only felt the once that were very obvious. It was still a very strange experience to feel the head of a foetus wilderbeest.

Wednesday we were called out to a game reserve quite far away (about 2 hours drive there). A 4 month old Giraffe was not putting any weight on it s right front paw and the owner was concerned that it might be broken. A giraffe is very sensitive to anesthetics, it can easily die and its would therefore only be possible to put a cast on the giraffe if the foot was broken. Marius Louw darted the giraffe from a quad bike this time. The mother was not far away from its baby the whole time we treated it. When the giraffe went down, me and Ele had to sit on its neck to keep it down whilst Marius injected it with a antidote right away to wake it, so that it didn’t die. Ele tried sitting on its neck alone at first, but when the giraffe woke up slightly it had no problem standing up with Ele on its neck. Marius had to practically rugby tackle the little thing to the ground and with me and Ele on its neck it still tried to get up a couple of times. It turned out that the little thing had a gotten a thorn in between its hoof. The torn was taken out and it was given antibiotics. The prognosis was very good. The problem with the farm was that it was very little for and too many animals in the area, so Marius was going to talk to the owner about clearing vegetation to make the farm better for the animals there, the concern at the moment was that the animals there now wasn’t in too good a shape and looked rather scruffy.

On the way home  a farmer called about a sable. It had broken its right metatarsal bone (hindlimb). The sable was given painkillers and taken away from its herd. It was quite young and if a sable is taken out of its herd, there is a very large risk of it being killed when put back in again (by the other sables). Therefore this was removed completely from its herd to be sold of later or put on its own after it had healed in an enclosure. The foot was cast with fiber glass cast and given the necessary antibiotic and painkiller injections.

Thursday we were called out to castle de wilt for a lame black Impala, a lame sable and a golden wilderbeest that didn’t look to good. The sable turned out it had a thorn in its foot as well. It was a beautiful animal with huge anthers it being a male. The wilderbeest had had diarrhea the day before, and it was therefore thought it  could have coccidiosis. This is a parasitic disease of the intestinal tract of animals caused by coccidian protozoa. When the wilderbeest was darted a faecal sample was taken, but there was no diarrhea anymore. The animal was treated with antibiotics and treated for coccidiosis, plus other parasites and ticks to prevent it being darted again. The condition was poorly and it looked shaggy, so time will tell if it makes it.

Because it was 3 days ago since the buffalo had been injected with avian and bovine TB we went back to that game farm to re-measure the skin. The only problem was that 7 buffalo had escaped from the enclosure they were held at, so they would need to be darted and brought in again. The animal in the enclose was very easy to get to, they were darted from the side and when it was safe to enter, we ran in to measure their neck, take out the dart, spray the dart wound and woke them up again. It was a simple and quick thing to do. Now getting the once that escaped was worse. After trying to drive up to them with the truck, Marius decided that they needed the helicopter again. The only problem was that the wind was very strong and the weather was treating for rain. The first pilot they called didn’t dare to come because of the wind, so in the end Lambert came. You could see that the helicopter was struggling, suddenly turning the opposite direction to what it was meant to etc. it started raining, so me & Ele who were standing on the back of the bucky both to pick up the buffalo and riding with one each on the way back to monitor the anaesthesia (breathing), were soaked wet. At one point I was sitting on a calf buffalo who was about the size of a st bernards dog to keep it down before it was lifted up on the truck, and the little thing almost stood up with me on it, whilst being drugged. They are strung even at that age.  We managed to dart and transport all the missing 7, but when transporting the last two it started hailing. Not small hail like at home, but 3-4 cm large hail. Never seen anything like it. After the job was done we stopped and got hot chocolate on the way home and changed tops. All 3:  Ele, Marius and me were soaked to the skin. Driving back it started thundering and lightning was shooting across the sky around us. The lightning lit up the sky with multiple colours. I swear the lightning stays longer on the sky here and is more powerful than at home. I wish I could have photographed it to show it, it was a sight I won’t forget. The rain continued through the night. The first rain in 6 months, so it was needed. The past weeks it had been a lot of bush fires around the area.

We were meant to dehorn some rhinos on Friday, but because the roads were in poor condition because of the rain, this job was cancelled. Me and Ele decided to go into the clinic to see if anything interesting was going on there. When we got there Erika was finishing a cesarean section on a jack russell terrier. The owner had waited 24 hours before bringing here in, but luckily they managed to save all 5 puppies which were jack russell dachshund crosses. The owner didn’t want the puppies so they were given away at 1 day old. This is normally not the time you can give them away, because they need their mother for colostrums milk etc. the new owner would have to feed them every hour for the first few days. Fingers crossed they make it.  After this we assisted Marius with a bladder stone surgery. The stones retrieved was massive 5-6 cm. Saturday we all went out for a breakfast/ lunch at Spurr to say bye to Ele, which was leaving for Cape town that evening. Going to miss here!

Sunday Blackie took me to Zebula game reserve.  This seemed like a family resort for wealthy people, but you could go there to meet the animals. I saw some baby Tigers & meerkats. I got to pet a lynx which was walked around on a lead and go into the cage to five 2 month old lion cubs. One of the lion cubs started playing with my camera strap, so I got to pet him whilst he was gnawing on it. I almost didn’t get my camera back when I was leaving. After this I went and had a private interaction with two grown cheetah. Jane and Tarzan was their names and they had been pets for a women in Pretoria until they got to large. They were very same, and when I started scratching Tarzan’s ear, he was purring like a cat. We sat on the grass side and I got to rub their bellies and cuddle them whilst they licked each other, me and played. It was an amazing experience to get that close to animals that are normally considered very dangerous. But these seemed like large cats, just wanting some cuddles.

 

Coming home we all had a braai by the pool. Ciska (Heleens daughter) and husband Louis came with their two kids and we swam in the pool, had wine and enjoyed the rest of the Sunday sunshine. Ending in a small party in the guesthouse bar. All in all a great ending to week number two.