Apr 4, 2011

Tales of an African Vet

 by Dr. Rey Aronson

Aronson is a wildlife vet, and in Tales of an African Vet he shares various stories of memorable experiences he's had working with wild animals. These aren't animals held in zoos, but ones roaming free out in the bush. So in order to treat the animals he often had to spend hours searching for them, successfully get them darted so they could be safely handled while asleep, and then monitor them until they woke up again (so they wouldn't get attacked by another predator). Quite an undertaking. Some might say why bother treating a wild lion with an injured eye, or rescuing a baby elephant stuck in the mud? isn't it better to let nature take its course, and allow the hyenas to eat the injured baby rhino (no mother in sight)? But Aronson felt that since the lives of these animals had been altered by humans (they all resided in game parks, their habitat restricted by fences, and often infected by disease or afflicted by stress due to human presence as well) it was only right that he help them out when possible. In some cases it was pretty obvious that humans were to blame for the animals' suffering, as when he tried to treat a lioness with a wire snare around her neck, or a gemsbok ill from the shock of improper handling during transportation from one game farm to another.

I must make a correction. Not all the stories are of creatures roaming wild and free. There are also various animals brought into his vet practice: a pet squirrel monkey, a snake injured by a dog, a hedgehog likewise suffering from a dog bite. He also tells of visiting a crocodile farm, and a fish farm with valued koi suffering from the bends! The stories in Tales of an African Vet are all good reads, engaging and very intriguing, especially when they get into issues of animal conservation. Some of them are sobering- it was dismaying to read about how close cheetahs are coming to extinction for example, and (inevitably) there are a few cases where the animals don't survive treatment. But a lot of them have good outcomes, and positive outlook for the future (he says that wild areas in South African are actually increasing as more and more people who own land privately turn it into game parks or reserves with habitat suitable for wild animals). It's easy to tell which animals are the author's favorites; he gives a lot more description about the elephants and crocodiles than the lions, for example. I enjoyed reading about them all.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.
Rating: 3/5 ........ 227 pages, 2011

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bermudaonion said...

I can't imagine being a vet in Africa. I bet those stories are amazing!

Jenny said...

I can imagine wanting to fix up lions -- they are magnificent! -- but I feel like the required bravery/awesomeness equation would be slightly different with a crocodile.

Sam @ The Literary Wombat said...

I'd be interested in reading something like this, though they usually just make me angry (at the people who cause the animals to wind up with things like wire snares around their necks!)

It's still nice to hear about up close and personal experience with animals, though (when they aren't being kept improperly in people's backyards & things!)