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AfriCat's Final Annual Health Check...

Annual health checks on the large carnivores at AfriCat are headed by veterinarians from Namibia and South Africa. In-depth health examinations are carried out on all the captive and rehabilitated carnivores. All the cats are darted and then taken to a well equipped, newly built AfriCat clinic for their evaluations.

From the 25th to the 29th of June 2018, the veterinary team from the University of Pretoria, assisted by Dr Diethardt Rodenwoldt (Namibian Vet Council reg. no. 84/7 (wildlife) and the AfriCat team examine and immobilized and 24 carnivores (18 cheetahs, 4 leopards and 2 lions) for the AfriCat Annual Health Checks and to collect samples for their registered research project – “The long-term health monitoring and immune-competence of captive cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) and other felids at AfriCat in Namibia”.

All the carnivores were anaesthetized via remote projectile device. All captive and recently park released cats were weighed, clinically assessed for their health status. Blood and urine samples were collected from each cat for a comprehensive serum biochemistry profiles. Two of the old cheetahs, Bubbles and Curly, had raised indicators pointing towards early renal failure.

Sadly, one of our leopard males, “Wahu”, had to be humanely euthanized, due to age related advanced irreversible renal pathology.

All 24 carnivores were vaccinated against rabies. A fly (cheetah fly) controlling program, initiated 3 years ago, still proved to be effective, as no flies were visible on any of the captive cats.

A potential additional benefit was that only one of the captive cats (cheetah), on gastroscopy had one nematode worm in the stomach, were as the rest of the cats found to be free of internal parasites.

Gastric biopsies were collected using a flexible endoscope to assess the extent of gastritis in all the cheetahs. All cats under went a thorough routine dental examination. Where indicated root canal treatment(s) and/or extraction(s) were performed, which was minimal indicating the value placed on dental care and the resulting improvement of quality of life in captivity and outside (park) to feed / eat functional freely and painless.

Like every other year AfriCat offers an exclusive, ‘behind-the-scenes’ – hands-on experience for volunteers during the Annual Health Checks and this year we were very glad to be assisted by a group of volunteers from the United States (Ultimate Safaris and Wilderness Travel USA). The volunteers pay a fee to experience and witness all the activities and science associated with a clinical Health examination and evaluation and what all can be done on wild carnivores.

During the same week, one of our free-roaming Sable bulls was observed with a serious limp (non-weight bearing front leg). All still present were witnessing with the help of a helicopter the search, followed by remote dart immobilization of the bull for an intense detailed examination of the problem.

It was the start of pododermatitits (an infection – puss – of one of the hoof surrounding tissue, caused most likely by a penetration object like a thorn or wooden piece). The wound was debrided and cleaned together with supporting local and systemic treatment. He was translocated into a smaller enclosure, to ensure constant supervision and appropriate continuous care before been released back into the park again.

Team AfriCat would like to extend their gratitude to everyone for their passion, dedication who made this years Annual Health Checks such a successful one.