EVOLUTION OF A WILDLIFE VETERINARIAN: Training, field application and research, and the overall role of academia
A veterinary degree is only the beginning of a vibrant career path. Choosing to move into the wildlife and conservation fields requires a careful decision-making process, to gain the requisite experience and knowledge. Application of newly acquired skills in the field and thorough research is essential.
In this presentation, Dr. Kock describes his 2-year training Residency in Zoo and Wildlife Medicine at the University of California at Davis as a pivotal career decision. Subsequently, his Master’s degree in Epidemiology (Wildlife) was key to unlocking more doors.
He then describes field research on Bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) in the mountains and deserts of California and publications that followed. This experience was transferred back home when he returned to Zimbabwe, enriching further research on the black and white rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis and Ceratotherium simum). A golden opportunity developed with field work and research revolving around the period of Operation Stronghold (Zambezi Valley relocation of black rhino) and a decision to dehorn all rhino in Zimbabwe in the 1980s and 1990s. Experience gained and a background in Epidemiology and Population Medicine further enhanced opportunities to do meaningful field work and research in 14 African countries, from the Tropical Forest to the vast savanna grasslands of South Sudan. In the latter stages of a career spanning 44 years, 40 as a wildlife veterinarian, the opportunity presented itself to be part of the developing One Health approach to solving environmental, human and animal health challenges.
Later in Dr. Kock’s career, he pursued writing and self-publishing: both with photographic driven storytelling (Through My Eyes: Journey of a Wildlife Veterinarian, 2019) and the development of a technical publication for field-based wildlife veterinarians and a training guide (Chemical and Physical Restraint of African Wild Animals, 3rd edition, 2021).