Namibia's Veterinary Students Also Familiar With Game

9 Aug 2023

The University of Namibia (UNAM) is one of the few institutions in the world that trains its veterinary students in the treatment of game. This was explained by the experienced veterinarian and lecturer of the School of Veterinary Medicine at UNAM, Dr Mark Jago, in a public talk in Windhoek yesterday evening. In Namibia, there is a great need for veterinarians who are also familiar with the handling of wild animals.

The reason: Game is utilised economically in Namibia, for tourism and meat production. Jago presented figures from the Namibian Statistics Agency from 2014, according to which wildlife utilisation accounted for a total of 5.0 billion Namibia Dollar. This surpassed agriculture (N$ 4.6 billion).

Economic utilisation is, moreover, the decisive cause for the recovery of Namibia's game populations. According to Mark Jago, it is estimated that around 1800 there were about 8 million indiviuals of game in what is now Namibia. By about 1970, the number had shrunk to about 1 million.

Then game was integrated into the economic system by granting ownership and utilisation rights to farmers and later to communal game reserves. Since then, numbers have risen steadily – to an estimated 3 billion. Only droughts cause natural temporary declines.

Wildlife veterinarians are in demand


Experienced veterinarian and lecturer at UNAM's School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr Mark Jago.
Photo: screenshot from the video 'UNAM Vets on the wild side'


State and private nature reserves as well as game farmers need veterinarians to prevent the spread of diseases. Veterinarians are also required when catching and transporting game for relocation or trade.

The first three years, Jago said in his lecture on training at UNAM, students are taught medical basics. From the fourth to the sixth year, practice is added.

The campus on the Neudamm farm 30 km east of Windhoek, where there is a clinic for farm animals, serves this purpose. A department for domestic animals was opened in July 2022 at the UNAM campus in the west of the capital.

Practical training in wildlife treatment takes place in nature parks and on game farms. Jago gave an insight with the video 'UNAM Vets on the wild side' from July 2021 of a game capture operation at the Etosha Heights private nature reserve.

The lecture 'UNAM Vets on the wild side' was hosted by the organisation Namibian Environment & Wildlife Society (NEWS) and took place at the Namibia Scientific Society (NSS). The video recording can be accessed on the NSS website.


'On the wild side': Veterinary students at UNAM learn how to tranquilise and treat game in the field.
Photo: UNAM School of Veterinary Medicine 


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