Posts Tagged With: veterinarian

Toto the Fighter-Animal of the Week

His leg is so swollen, his wrinkles had straightened out.

His leg is so swollen, his wrinkles had smoothed out.

Kenya-Thanks to Fly4Elephants, a young elephant was spotted by air patrol staggering in the bush. He had been speared with a poisoned tip. Barely able to stand, the KWS (Kenya Wildlife Service) deployed a veterinarian to the area to assess his condition.

On Feb 15 the veterinarian darted him and treated him with pain killers and antibiotics. He seemed ok that day and the next.

Feb 17 he was seen in a pond, eating and drinking. A good sign! The next day he seemed somewhat relaxed and even tried to knock down a tree.

Sleeping with his head resting on the tree.

Sleeping with his head resting on the tree.

Feb 20, the veterinary team darts him again to clean his wound. He is startled by the dart and falls down on his bad leg. The team gets him up after a great deal of effort.

Feb 21, he is sleeping with his head on a tree. He is very uncomfortable and cannot lie down. Everyone fears he seems to be giving up.

Feb 22, He is desperate for sleep, and has lost weight. The decision is made is relieve him of his suffering and put him down. The vet will come out tomorrow.

Feb 23, To everyone’s surprise, there seems to be slight improvement.

A visit from family.

A visit from family.

Feb 24, The little bull had a visit from his family today. There was a herd of over 150 elephants. Amongst them a family of 5 or 6 peeled off and spent time with him, stroking  and  touching him all over … they were very reluctant to leave him.

Feb 25, In the morning Toto was eating, still  hanging on.  Then in the evening,  just a few hours ago-he chose a final resting place and passed away. It was the same resting place another bull elephant had died in 4 months ago. Is it a coincidence his family visited in the last hours? Did they come to bid farewell?

This brave soul fought hard, and suffered much, but his pain is over, his journey has ended. Rest in peace Toto. Let your struggle be a wake up call, a lesson for all of us on the tragedy of poaching.

Categories: Rhino Spotlight | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Who ARE the Bad Guys?

Veterinary team prepares to dehorn a rhino.

Veterinary team prepares to dehorn a rhino.

*Night vision goggles

*Silenced weapons

*Darting equipment

*Bullet proof armour


With a checklist like this, we could be talking about an army. Yet it is also the equipment used by the modern-day poacher. With the horn fetching more on the black market than cocaine or even gold, everyone wants a piece of the pie. The low-level men who DO the poaching are being funded by higher level organizations with whatever supplies are necessary to bring in the “goods”.

The level of corruption runs far and wide. Militias, rebel groups, intelligence officials, Irish gangsters , Vietnamese diplomats, Chinese scientists, copter pilots, antiques dealers and recently an American rodeo star who used Facebook to find  horns, are all getting their hands dirty with poaching. Even Thai prostitutes and pimps are getting involved. The prostitutes were hired by a criminal syndicate to obtain hunting permits (through some loopholes) and got “professional” hunters to make the kill and bring in the horn.

Of course poverty-stricken villagers often turn to poaching to support their families. A corrupt minority of game farmers, professional hunters, and safari operators are involved as well. But what I believe is the highest level is betrayal is the involvement of veterinarians. 

The veterinarians who work with large mammals have access to M99-a drug that is 1000 times more powerful than morphine. The supply is restricted, and supposedly only accessible by vets. Yet somehow poachers are getting their hands on this potent tranquilizer.

The majority of vets work tirelessly and fervently , giving the victims of poaching round the clock care and treatment to save their lives. Along with the rangers in the anti-poaching units, veterinarians ARE the foot soldiers in this war, an integral part of rhino and elephant survival.  As a former member of a veterinary staff, I know all too well the highs and lows of the job. There is no 9-5, no glory, and certainly not a high level of pay. But where is their passion? Their hearts have hardened, their patients betrayed in the name of greed; an unforgivable evil.

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