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MEMORIES OF MAFIKENG

 

Have you ever read the books or seen the TV series ‘The Number One Ladies Detective Agency’ set in Gabarone, Botswana? For me they back many happy memories of the year I spent in Mafikeng, Bophuthatswana as a young army vet a long time ago. Back then National Service was compulsory in South Africa, but the medical corps vets at that stage could choose where they’d like to be sent. I’d heard from one of the older students that Mafikeng was a good place to gain experience, so I put my name down, and ended up being sent there, seconded to Agricor, Bophuthatswana's version of New Zealand's MPI.

 

It’s on the South Africa- Botswana border. They say you only cry twice in the Kalahari, when you arrive and when you leave! When I arrived I couldn’t get over how flat and desolate it was. Coming from Cape Town, set on a peninsula with mountains and beaches not unlike Banks Peninsula, this was a real culture shock. There was a bridge over the railway line about 4m high, from there one could see about 60km in any direction! The heat was also oppressive, hitting the low 40s in February, and even at night you couldn’t cover up since it was too hot for even a sheet.

 

The people more than made up for it though. The Tswana people are very courteous and friendly. They are about the only African tribe I can think of that has never been involved in a war. The white people are also very outgoing, probably because socialisation is important, since there’s little else to do. It was also my first real taste of a multicultural society, back then South Africa was still fairly segregated. The wild life was also pretty special- as you travel west into the deep Kalahari there were many kudu, a spectacular antelope with magnificent horns that could jump game fences as if they were only waist high, and I saw several black mambas- one of the deadliest snakes in the world. Because of the wide open skies the cloud formations, sunsets and thunderstorms were spectacular.

 

I used to travel into the surrounding villages, as well as running a clinic in Mafikeng itself. It was nice to be appreciated, the villagers were grateful to us just for turning up, even if it was sometimes a day or two after their phone call! I was there during a severe drought, which was sad since a lot of the sicknesses we saw were due to starvation. It was tempting to sit down under the shade of an Acacia tree in the heat of the day, but you had to beware of the sand tampans (soft ticks) that could locate humans within minutes. Any operations or interesting procedures would draw a whole crowd of fascinated school children, even in the middle of nowhere, and directions could be interesting- go to Ramatlabama, turn left at the church, then look for the second house with the blue roof after the dead tree. No rapid numbers there!

 

I think the environment here is probably as different as one can get from Bophuthatswana, but it was a very different and special part of the world, and I feel privileged to have experienced it.

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We have beautiful cat greeting cards available to help fund our kitten rehoming and stray cat desexing work. Thanks to Cat Rescue Christchurch  who also generously pay for many of our surgeries on strays! You can hire stock signs for your car or to put on the road, as well as orange flashing beacons and hi-viz vests from us to comply with the new regulations when moving stock. We've recently put shingle down in the parking area and made it drive through so please park inside and tell us what you think! Also have you noticed our freshly painted roof?

We have moved to 3328 Christchurch-Akaroa Rd near the Birdlings Flat turnoff, watch out for our big sign, you can't miss it. We have a much bigger range of foods and animal health products, including the BlackHawk working dog food at great prices. Our cattery is also open and looking great.

We have an inhouse blood analyzer at the clinic, so we can run many tests while you wait. This allows us to offer pre-anaesthetic testing as well as health screening for older animals, and provide an emergency service afterhours and weekends when the Christchurch laboratory is closed. We can also determine mineral levels in down cows. We also now have a portable ultrasound scanner, good news for pregnancy testing.

We once again have the cheap mismating injection available for bitches. This has been off the market for a few years now, but Paul has been able to have some compounded. We have some ideas to help you save on animal health expenses- ask us about the bulk deals for Eukanuba dog food, and get to feed a premium, performance enhancing brand. Also the RFID electronic ear tags are now compulsory for cattle and deer. Ask us about ordering NAIT tags for your stock, or about the new tagging requirements. There is a lot more flexibility in what visible tags are acceptable- they don't all have to be yellow! We are able to procure eartags at below recommended retail prices.

We also have a large range of Acana/Orijen, Hills Science Diet and BlackHawk dog and cat food in stock. Paul can deliver to Akaroa on Mondays and Thursdays and to Diamond Harbour on Tuesdays.

Animal health information - Archives

Please contact us if you’d like copies of any of these. Many are now available to view as posts on Paul's Linkedin page. Also let us know if you’d like to see any other topics featured here.

A different perspective, Animal welfare, Accidental poisonings, Arthritis, Allergies, Above & beyond, After Hours, Akaroa or bust

Becoming a vet, Birthing & midwifery, Be wormwise this Autumn

Calici vaccination update- rabbits

Dental care, De sexing, Dogs, sheep measles & farm etiquette

External parasites, Euthanasia, EID's, Equine deworming recommendations & autumn animal health advice

First aid in animals. FIV and Feline Leukaemia, Five Freedoms

Grain Poisoning

Happy to be stuck with you, Human-animal bond, Heat Stroke

Internal parasites, Is it too late to spay or neuter my pet? Internet & Google- the good the bad and the ugly, It shouldn't happen to a vet

Kitten rehoming

Lamb rearing

Mafikeng rhino, Memories of Mafikeng, Mr Talkative, Mycoplasma bovis , Microchipping,

Nutrition, Nutrition in pet rabbits, New Year Animal Health Checklist

Obesity in pets, Onwards & upwards

Poisons in the pantry, primary health care, Plant poisonings, Pigs rule, Pig's Ear, Pathology & blood testing, Pet statistics in NZ

Rabbit calicivirus, Ramped up rhino, Resistance-squandering a miracle, Road block

Senior wellness

Tapeworm, TB in NZ, The nasties, The big move, The Challenge of Diamond Harbour, The thief, The Driving Lesson, Technology at work

Urinary problems in cats

Vets’ cars, vaccination principles- ruminants, Vaccination of dogs & cats, Vet lifestyler

War wounds, Why vaccinate?, World veterinary year, World vaccination guidelines, Wild & stray cats

Zoonoses