Greetings from South Africa! My name is Erin Doll and I am twenty years old. I am a junior at Mississippi State pursuing a degree in Animal and Dairy Sciences. This summer I am privileged with the opportunity to intern with the Safari4u Veterinary Program. For the next month I will be working with Safari4u in Cintsa, South Africa. This internship is designed to provide a broad and comprehensive understanding of animals in the African context.Throughout this program I will be given the opportunity to work with local domestic animals, livestock, and wildlife. My responsibilities will range from assisting with game capture to working on various community outreach projects. The program is under the supervision of our program vet and in coordination with many individuals in various sectors of the animal industry. This wide range of experiences will be invaluable to me as I work toward my goal of becoming a veterinarian. I can’t wait to see what the next month has in store for me.
This week began bright and early on Sunday morning to catch my first flight to New York. From there I met of with some other interns on my program and boarded our fifteen hour flight to Johannesburg. We then got on one last plane ride to the East London Airport where we met up with our program coordinator. After we settled into our house in Cintsa East, we did a short orientation and hit the ground running. We started by doing a postmortem exam on a bushwhack. Later in the afternoon we went to a nearby Xhosa village. There we did flea dips and deworming for dogs with the program vet.
We started out on Tuesday building a mobile vet clinic for the program. This will eventually be used to give veterinary services to communities in need. In the afternoon we went to modify a trailer for giraffe capture. For giraffe transport, the trailer must be as wind proof as possible so that the animal can stay warm during the trip because they are not able to thermoregulate as well when sedated.
We started the day very early on Wednesday at a private game reserve where we were assisting with giraffe captures. It is a complex process that involves a lot of coordination between the vet, the buyer, the seller, and even the weather. Giraffe are one of the most difficult animals to capture and transport because they are very susceptible to cardiomyopathy and due to their large size they must be walked into the trailer.
On Thursday we started the day dipping horses for ticks and feeding. In the afternoon we visited a local farm and performed pregnancy checks on a group of cows via rectal palpation. It was interesting to see the differences in cattle breeds here as compared to the US. The majority of the cattle are Bos indicus or hybrids. We also toured the pig operation while we were there.
Our week ended by taking a tour of Python Park. While we were there we were introduced to various reptile species native to parts of Africa and around the world as well as reptile handling and health. We spent the afternoon touring a commercial fish farm. We were able to observe the different stages of fish being grown out as well as the laboratory where they monitor fish health. The facility we visited is one of the only of its kind in South Africa.