Between Lions and Elephants

2 Weeks with Worldwide Vets in Zimbabwe!

It took me a while to come back home and realize what I did in these two amazig weeks in Africa. I vaccinated lions, monkeys and a zebra. I rectalized a wild zebra and did a pregnancy check. I worked with a lion in anesthesia and took a blood sample from his jugular vein. I got so many new informations and skills and every time when I thought „oh my gosh this was sooo amazing, it can’t get any better“ and new day and a new adventure came and showed me that I was wrong!

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Our Home was the Antelope Park, two hours from Harare (The Capital of Zimbabwe), which is also the home of more than 100 lions, 4 Elephants, many Horses and Wildlife.

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The Lion program is probably one of the best most important part of the Park. The aim is it to get the lions back into the wild and increase the Lion Population in Zimbabwe, which has reached an alamring low number. Our Job in this park was to treat the lions and 4 old elephants who live in this park and one part of this was the vaccinating for rabbies. Well, I have to admit, the lions really hated to get vaccinated.

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The deworming of the Elephants on the other Hand was a much nicer work. Elephants really love Orange Juice! So all we had to do was to mix the Right amount of Ivermectin with a bucket of Orange Juice and water and the elephants did the rest!

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And you wouldnt believe how fast an elephant can empty a full bucket!!

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Beside working we were alound to walk the lions and the elephants in the morning or in the evening which is an very Special experience. The lions are not even a year old at the Moment but you already have to be careful when you walk beside them. Its important that you never crouch beside them so that you are always bigger than them so they dont attack you. Other rules are: watch your back, don’t run, stay with the Group and only touch their back or their butt. IMG_2240.JPG

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We were also aloud to do Horse Safaris with „African Horse Safaris“ which is probably the best way to get close to Wildlife animals who are afraid of loud cars. We met 4 giraffes, a herd of wildebeests and Zebras on our two rides through the area and the horses knew precisely how close they could walk to the wild animals.

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The anaesthesia and implanting of a new contraceptive in an old female Lion was one of my Highlights during these two weeks. Wild lions normally dont become much older then 15 years, but lions in captivity can get much older. This Girl is 20 years old and they find out that even in this old years they are still able to breed!

It was so different to a horse anaesthesia, where every single Minute Counts from giving the medication until the horse is up again. Sedating an animal that you cant touch, unless you want to be killed, is quite a challange.

IMG_2043.JPGFirst of all they had to dart her and while she was falling asleep they seperated her from the other lions. Then came the scary part where you had to check if she is asleep and after this the work could finally start. We got her out of her Cage and into an area where we could run away in the case that she finally Wakes up.

IMG_2057.JPGVery important was to tie her legs and the blinding of the eyes with a blanket, so we would have enough time, if she woke up. Then we took a blood sample, dewormed her, vaccinated her, set the implant, took a faceal sample and gave medications for the dart wound.

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During the whole anaesthesia we monitored the lions heart rate (40-60 during General Anaesthesia, up to 90 awake), respiratory rate, mucous Membrane Color, capillary Refill time, Depth of anaesthesia (Reflexes of eyes, muscle tone,…) and Body temperature every 5-10 minutes.

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We also checked the mouth and the teeth, which are good marks to differentiate the lions.

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You can believe me that we slept Pretty good after this exciting day! And look at the Beautiful house that we called our home.

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And the neighbors that lived in the trees!

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After the first week we left to visit the place of „Free to be wild“ Sanctuary! A Wildlife Rehabilitation and release Center in Zimbabwe with a Focus on protecting African’s Primates, who rely on donations from the public.

In this Sanctuary I met „City Boy“ and touched a zebra for the first time of my life!

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It was so interesting to see that Young Zebras Show the same behaviour as Young horses as you can see in the Picture! Opening his mouth and showing me that he is Young and that I shouldnt harm him. IMG_3366.JPG

But he is also soooo naughty 😉

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One of the cutest Visitors is „Klippie“ the Klipspringer, who lives here since his mother was killed by a Leopard.

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‚The Young baboons are super interested and hate it if you tell them Things they shouldnt do, like steeling stuff or biting!

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And they truely love this man!

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And of Course I cant Forget Peck! The ostrichs that runs around and pecks who ever she feels to! Her egg was found after a forest fire and brought to „Free to be wild“.

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During our stay we vaccinated City Boy, Klippie and the Young Baboons, and they loved it as much as the lions did! Being bitten by a Monkey is quite painfull, so we had helpers who hold them during the procedure and after this they Needed a lot of cuddling!

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A sad fact is that animals dont live free anymore, they are in national parks or in reserves which are owned by People. If there are too many animals of one Kind in a reserve you have to sell them and Transport them to an other place. This was our Job in the Reserve close tho Harare.

The animals in this case were Impalas, which are darted and transported on the shoulders to the next Vehicle. I have to say they are much heavier than they look!

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We also took blood, dewormed them and vaccinated them while they where asleep.

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This was a small look into my experience of Worldwide Vets who invited me to this great program to experience once more how it feels to work as a wild life vet in Africa! I learned that when your work in Africa it’s nice to plan the next day, but never expect it  to happen exactly this way! Plans  will change, tours  will be canceled and other challenges will wait for you instead! You will hear the words “T.I.A – This Is Africa” and you will life after this or become very unhappy! You will learn that there are things you can’t controle and that the clocks work different and you will not be able to change this, no matter how hard you try!

The thing I love about Travelling I is to see other worlds, other cultures , other ways of living! We often think that our way is the only right way and everything else is stupid or incorrect! But there are so many ways of living and working!

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This Is Africa!

I will definitely come back!

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