Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Elephants and Crocs, as Seen by the Doc
Tales of an African Vet by Dr. Roy Aronson brings the reader up close and quite personal with the kinds of wild animals that tourists dream about but may never see on safari. Each of the 19 stories chronicles an interesting medical case handled by this highly-skilled South African veterinarian. Some of the cases
seemed hopeless at the time; others appeared almost impossible to treat. How do you track and treat in the wild a lionness with entropion of the eyelid, a condition which could eventually blind her? How safe is it to anesthetize a 2-ton rhinoceros? Can an elephant survive a plundered meal of 220 pounds of canned pickles and jars of jam, glass and all? Who wouldn't want to know the answer to that one!
The intriguing medical crises of large and small wild animals are explained in this book with humility, good humor, and a loving dedication to the author's patients. Yes, even a deadly Cape cobra which has killed a small pet dog (the dog went into the bushes after the snake and broke the snake's spine) is treated by the doctor with the same earnest hope of saving its life. Although this story ended sadly for both animals, Dr. Aronson made the effort to find the wild snake, restrain it, perform an examination on it, mercifully euthanize it, and then safely desposit the snake's body out in the countryside. He did this out of respect for life and nature's ways.
Each of these medical cases has broadened the author's knowledge of the animal kingdom and its precarious standing in a world ever encroached upon by man. In turn, this African veterinarian has educated many game wardens, animal handlers, and the public about the unique and serious conditions that can affect these animals. The issues of Apartheid, poaching, and the introduction of human disease into wildlife species are discussed in an informative way that puts mankind on alert without harsh scolding. I thoroughly enjoyed these true and amazing stories demonstrating one very beneficial and vital way man can connect with the wildest of lifeforms.