World Veterinarian Day was created in 2000 by the World Veterinary Association to highlight and promote the work performed by vets around the globe. The WVA supports veterinarians in many areas, including medicine, research, practice, and outreach. The WVA is guided by its belief that humans and animals share the natural environment and create harmony with and for each other.
This is a day to celebrate the veterinary profession and who better to toast than Dr.Gerhardus Scheepers who works with the MGWF in our rhino notching project in the Madikwe.
Dr. Gerhardus grew up on a farm near a small town called Stella on the edge of the Kalahari (Northern Cape) where working with and caring for animals was always a part of his life. When he was 10 years old he assisted with a Caesarean section on one of the cows from the farm. This powerful experience led him to the decision that he would pursue a career in Veterinary Science. Having completed his schooling he was accepted into the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the University of Pretoria. The campus at Onderstepoort – which is celebrating its centenary this year – is internationally recognised and is the only institution in South Africa offering the teaching of Veterinary Science.
Today Dr. Gerhardus owns a practice in the town of Brits in the North-West Province. He pursues his passion for animals by working with domestic pets and farm animals – in addition to his work with wildlife. He is assisted by his Veterinary Nurse Cornel van der Walt who has a well-earned reputation as being one of the best in the field. Dr. Gerhardus told us that he is an outdoor fanatic so working with magnificent wildlife under the South African sun is a perfect fit for him.
When we asked him if he had a favourite animal – which is a tough question for a vet he said “I think we all have? Us vets normally say that each animal you work with is special in its own way. Each species has some unique feature that makes it unique and special in its own way. But I do have a soft spot for the big cats! To back this up he told us his spirit animal is a Lion. Perfect!
Listening to him talk about his work you can see that his deep love and respect for the bush underpins his passion for his work… “ Have you ever seen the promise of life in a new-born when it battles to get up and have its first drink and grow stronger by the minute, it is those special moments that create a love for the bush beyond understanding. There is something magical about that … nothing on earth can compete with that!” We asked the doc to share an exceptional game sighting experience – “I have witnessed plenty through the years, so to pick one of them will be difficult. You must remember the whole setting in which the scenario happens makes it a memorable event. I think to give a quick summary would be that it is a privilege to see animals in their natural environment going about their normal activity. What stays special is witnessing young with their mothers and then obviously a male of any species in the prime of his life full of vigour and life in its body.”
Dr. Gerardus was born under the zodiac sign of Taurus which means he is focused, determined and diligent in his work. Could he be a bit of a workaholic? We dug a little deeper and asked when his day is over and if he islucky enough to be in the reserve enjoying sundowners – what is his choice of drink? His quick response was “is the day ever over?…. Which goes to show his 100% dedication to his work (another Taurean trait). When nudged he did reveal that he has been known to enjoy “a good Whiskey on the rocks, a Gin and Tonic or a passionfruit cane spirit and lemonade…and an Amarula Cream liqueur rounds everything off nicely.”
Cheers to Dr.Gerhardus Scheepers and all the other vets around the globe, working tirelessly to preserve the lives of animals.