for National Geographic Ultimate Explorer
Ulf Tubbesing is a pioneer veterinarian who works with wild animals in Africa. He makes "house calls" from his Namibian clinic, tending to the needs of the continent's wildest animalsand fighting to give them a sanctuary where they can recover and roam free.
"Treating and working with wildlife or, more specifically, problem animals to me is an incredible professional challenge," said the fifth-generation Namibian. "I do it for the love of it."
This week, National Geographic Ultimate Explorer correspondent Mireya Mayor joins Tubbesing as he fights to save a leopard family suffering from a deadly brain disorder. Mayor also helps capture wildebeests, giraffes, and other animals to populate a new nature preserve that's the realization of Tubbesing's long-held dream.
The story airs on Wild Vet: Extreme Challenge on Sunday, September 14, 2003, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT on MSNBC.
Dangerous House Calls
When Ulf Tubbesing makes a house call, the patient isn't always cooperative and the location is almost never inside a house. The veterinarian responds to wild animals in trouble, often because of contact with humans.
Much of Namibia's desirable land is fenced in, so many of the nation's leopards and cheetah live on farmland. They sometimes kill livestock, creating an economic problem for some landowners.
"In the past ranchers and farmers would only shoot to kill," Mayor explained. "Now some of them are calling Ulf and letting him safely move the animal off their land."
The animals often need medical attention as well. While Mayor was in Africa Tubbesing tended to a wild cheetah that had been attacked by a leopard.
"In any other circumstances the animal would have died," she reported. "It couldn't walk or eat on its own, but remarkably after Ulf's care you wouldn't even know that it had ever been attacked."
The work is a tireless and dangerous effort, but it can make a real impact on seriously depleted animal populations like the cheetahin which every animal counts.
"These animals don't have a lot of other options," Mayor explained, "and there are not a lot of people like Ulf He has a real passion for these animals, in a lot of cases they would be shot and killed and if not for him and his specialized skills."