Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife veterinarian, Dr Dave Cooper, is the 2018 recipient of the Wild Tomorrow Fund’s Umvikeli Wildlife Protector Award. The award is for his lifetime of dedication to the care, management and conservation of rhinos and other wild animals in Africa… reports Larry Bentley from the Zululand Observer.
The award recognises an individual or organisation working tirelessly to protect endangered and threatened wildlife and their habitats in Africa.
Cooper was honoured at Wild Tomorrow Fund’s annual benefit, held on Friday in New York.
He qualified as a veterinarian in 1981 and joined the Natal Parks Board (now Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife) in 1993.
He is the sole vet at Ezemvelo responsible for all parks in the KZN province and is considered the leading expert in rhinoceros care, capture and transport, having relocated
well over 2 500 animals.
He has been the principal vet involved in the ‘Rhinos Without Borders’ project since its inception, which has to date moved 87 White Rhino from South Africa to Botswana’s Okavango Delta.
He has also been involved in the relocation of more than 150 Black Rhino to nine different localities as part of the World Wildlife Fund Black Rhino Range Expansion Project.
Rhino under threat
In South Africa, home to 80 percent of Africa’s remaining rhinos, poaching has esca-
lated from 13 killed in 2007 to 7 425 rhinos slaughtered violently for their horns in the past 10 years.
After security was increased in Kruger National Park, poachers quickly moved their focus to KZN. Cooper and his team are called on to respond to each poaching incident, attending to injured and orphaned rhinos, processing fresh crime scenes, completing forensic reports and collecting DNA samples.
‘I am extremely humbled and also honoured to receive the 2018 Wildlife Protector Award.’ said Cooper. ‘I am humbled because I am one person of many who are involved in the daily
struggle to save wildlife.
‘I believe that raising awareness is critically important.
‘Many people are not aware of the importance of biodiversity and what’s happening to even the well known species such as rhinos.
‘The rhino is a symbol of representing the loss of biodiversity today. If we can’t save rhinos, what is next?
‘It is a struggle we must work our hardest at to win’.
Dedication and Sacrifice
‘The tireless dedication and sacrifice of Dr Cooper is an inspiration for all – not only those who work on the ground with him, but for others far away who share his love and concern for African wildlife,’ said John Steward, Executive Director of Wild Tomorrow Fund.
Board member and New York city veterinarian, Dr Wendy McCulloch, said, ‘I had the privilege of spending time working with Dave in the field in South Africa.
‘I was astounded at his ability to work long hours under tremendous pressure, making it look effortless.
‘He is a fountain of knowledge, patient and generous with his time, and highly respected by his team and peers.’
#Congratulations #WildVet #SavingRhino #SavingWildlife #InspiringFutureHeroes
This article – by Larry Bentley first appeared in The Zululand Observer. It is republished here with ZO’s kind permission.
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