Chemical immobilization of wildlife is one of our main service areas. Specifically selected animals are darted with immobilising drugs so that they may be handled, microchipped, treated and loaded for transport. This type of capture is usually reserved for expensive breeding stock and/or sick animals.
Since capture and relocation are very stressful for a wild animal, we routinely treat immobilised animals with multivitamins, deworming agents, treatment against ticks and flies etc. (as may be indicated under specific circumstances or dictated by import requirements). As a standard protocol, we administer a long-acting tranquilizer. All this helps to give these animals the best possible chance of adapting and thriving in their new environment.
Depending on the species and even the individual animal, this regimen can be altered to include certain vaccines and other treatments. It is also during immobilisation that we place any requested ear tags and/or microchips.
We also immobilize injured or sick wild animals for examination and treatment. This work is usually limited to an individual animal or a number of affected animals in a herd. The animal is darted from the helicopter or from the ground, depending on accessibility. Once the animal is down, it can be examined, diagnostic samples may be collected and treatment given as deemed applicable for the specific case(s).
Besides a clinical examination, we have comprehensive field laboratory equipment which enables us to perform diagnostic blood, faecal and tissue examinations on the farm, often helping us to make a rapid, yet accurate field diagnosis. We can further perform ultrasound examinations and will take additional samples for advanced laboratory analyses if indicated. We always carry a grinder with special hoof cutting disk to treat long hooves.
We are equipped to do minor (abscess lancing, wound suturing etc.) to fairly major surgical procedures (caesarean sections, minor orthopaedic conditions etc.) in the field. Where needed, advanced surgery can be performed at Rhino Park Veterinary Clinic in Windhoek. We will discuss different treatment options with the client and follow up on any sample sent for analysis.
Since we have clients throughout Namibia, we are able to gather information on disease incidents from all over the country. This gives us a good insight and knowledge on possible health threats on your farm. Our clients are always welcome to discuss their concerns with us and we will provide early warning should we feel that farmers in an area are at risk of a current health threat.
Responsible game management should include disease prevention strategies which includes vaccination of susceptible species. The current fastest, least stressful and most efficient vaccination strategy is to dart vaccinate from a helicopter. The helicopter reduces the time needed for vaccination (especially of bigger game populations on bigger farms/camps) and also provides the animals with less stress compared to dart vaccination from the ground. Depending on terrain and bush density we will be able to dart in excess of 300 animals on a 10.000 ha farm within 3-5 hours flying time. Animals also may be vaccinated if they are immobilized. Two of the most important diseases to vaccinate against in Namibia are rabies and anthrax, whilst some Clostridial infections and pasteurella pose a serious risk on some farms and under certain management conditions.
Rabies is a fatal viral disease which affects all mammals, but especially the highly social animals such as Kudu and Eland. In recent years, rabies spread to most parts of Namibia, resulting in devastating losses to both Kudu and Eland populations on many farms. We thus highly recommend vaccination of these two species. Over the years, we have been doing this on a number of farms and can provide references that will attest to the positive effect on these vaccinated populations! We recommend vaccinating at least once in the first year, then again the following year. After that, vaccinations can be performed either annually or every other year, depending on the local situation. Read more about rabies under 'Articles' and watch our rabies dart vaccination video on the right, in where we show you how we dart vaccinate kudus and eland.
In recent years we have diagnosed rabies in four rhinos. Such an incidence in a high-value, low-density species convinced us to now also routinely vaccinate rhinos against rabies. We also advise to vaccinate rhinos yearly with Rhinovax®, this is a specially formulated vaccine for e.g., rhinos, elephants, lions etc. against anthrax and clostridial diseases. Under ‘Articles’ you can find more information on Rhinovax®.
Anthrax is endemic to Namibia and is caused by very hardy bacteria that live and can survive in the soil for decades. Mammals, such as Rhino, Roan, Kudu, Sable etc. are susceptible. Disease outbreaks are usually dramatic with multiple mortalities (also in various species on the same property) dying literally “overnight” without showing prior symptoms of disease. Animals should be vaccinated annually and ideally, the initial vaccine should be followed by a booster vaccine after one to two months. Read more about anthrax under 'Articles'.
To confirm pregnancies, we make use of a high quality portable ultrasound machine to examine any animal for pregnancy, and we are able to estimate how far the pregnancy is. Where requested, we will supply a signed certificate to attest the animals’ pregnancy status.
We also use our ultrasound machine as part of a comprehensive clinical examination in sick or injured animals and to examine various organ systems, including tendons and muscles.
If a wild animal is found dead, it is a good idea to perform a thorough examination of the carcass (PM examination). The cause of death could be contagious posing a possible threat to other animals or even man. Wherever an insured animal dies, a post mortem examination performed by a veterinarian becomes a prerequisite before an insurance company will be willing to settle such a claim!
A thorough post mortem examination involves the careful examination of the dead animal where it was found up to a careful visual inspection of the skin and all the internal organs. Depending on the case at hand, multiple samples will be collected for further laboratory analysis. We provide a post mortem report based on our findings and will guide our clients with advise on how to best deal with the situation.
Due to our vast country and logistic problems it is not always realistically/ financially feasible to have a veterinarian perform all post mortem examinations. To alleviate this situation, but still assist our clients to obtain the maximum information possible from any animal that died on his/her property, we can offer basic courses on when and how to perform a post mortem examination, including sample taking. We tell you which things to look out for and why we ask the questions we do. We will show you how to take and properly handle samples and how to report the incident to us. In this way, the animal can be examined immediately rather than having to wait for a veterinarian to be available to come out. You will be able to help us help you. Once the samples have been analysed, we will contact you and discuss further action. If you are interested, we provide PM courses for farmers, managers and other interested persons.
To free up more time for wildlife work, Ulf sold his Rhino Park Veterinary Clinic in Windhoek in 2009 to Dr Minty Soni. We are still linked to the clinic, where Ulf performs complicated surgeries and assists in challenging medical cases. We also use the clinic facilities (laboratory, X-ray etc.) for some of our complicated wildlife cases.
The clinic is extremely well equipped and manned by an enthusiastic team of 3 full time veterinarians who are all highly dedicated and strive to deliver a first world veterinary service.