Nine intrepid motor biking veterinary specialists from Britain have raised funds to vaccinate hundreds of horses in a remote South African region against African Horse Sickness (AHS).
The initiative took place in August as part of the voluntary Vets with Horsepower project, with support from animal health company Zoetis.
Vets with Horsepower is organised annually by Professor Derek Knottenbelt to help raise funds for important equine and human charities around the world. This year, nine senior academic and practising specialist vets, along with their support crew, undertook an endurance motorbike trip of about 2500km over 12 days from Johannesburg to Cape Town.
They provided education events for horse owners and equine veterinarians along the way to raise funds for three South African charities: Ethelbert Children’s Home, The Highveld Horsecare Unit and The Bizana Project.
Zoetis provided support for the Bizana project, which offers veterinary care for local working horses in a very remote part of Kwazulu Natal with a population of around 10,000 working equids. The horses and donkeys serve as the main transport system for children to get to school and for families to travel to market. There is no dedicated veterinary support in the region despite the serious threat posed by AHS. As part of their trip the Vets with Horsepower spent a day with the Bizana Project, working with South African vets to provide AHS vaccinations and care for working horses and donkeys and advice for their owners.
Professor Knottenbelt explains: “The loss of a horse here means kids can’t go to school and it’s an enormous loss of income to the family too. The AHS threat is massive but thanks to support from Zoetis, amongst others, we have been able to make a significant start with a vaccination programme this year. The more horses we can vaccinate the more animals can be saved and the more families can survive and thrive.”
Dr Wendy Talbot, National Equine Veterinary Manager at Zoetis said: “We are proud to have been able to help with this important project which is gradually transforming the quality of life of horses and families in Bizana. Hats off to Professor Knottenbelt and his team of unstoppable Vets with Horsepower.”
Vets with Horsepower have been motoring for six years and have so far raised more than £400,000.
Visit the Vets with Horsepower Facebook page, or make a donation.