Working Lives Kenya: Vet

WATCH: Dr Edward Kariuki spends a lot of time tending to African big cats

A vet with the Kenya Wildlife Service, Dr Edward Kariuki says his favourite animals to treat are the big cats.

Finding Dr Kariuki in his simple office in Nairobi National Park, a clue to his commitment and passion is an extraordinary collection of vials and pots in the corner. "It's my research project for when I retire," he says. "It's my tick collection."

Leaving the office, his first job of the day is to dart a lion and transport him for surgery. "I imagined working with chickens, or maybe cows," says this unflappable vet, as he performs a vasectomy on a five-year-old lion.

He is a "Daktari on safari" and in the 11 years he has worked for the Kenya Wildlife Service, Dr Kariuki has loved almost every minute. Except, that is, when he's being bitten, which has happened he says, in his understated way, "once in a while, but not many times".

He is always on call and - when he is not examining the jaws and the paws of a lion - he may be rushing off in a helicopter to treat animals injured in snares or working out how to restock a national park with game for the predators. For this, he is paid about $1,600 (£990) a month.

Most of his time though is spent at the animal orphanage at Nairobi National Park, where his lion patient lives.

"My favourites are the big cats," he explains, "They are highly endangered and I would like to see them live for my descendants to see."

Long into the future, his retirement plans including passing his knowledge onto the next generation of wildlife vets and, of course, figuring out what to do with his tick collection. Not every man can say they have that problem.


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