Dr William Fowlds, the Wilderness Foundation Medivet Project Co-ordinator, started his career at Medivet in 1997 as a veterinary surgeon. He then left Medivet to pursue a career as a wildlife vet in South Africa, particularly focusing on the challenges of rhino poaching.
Dr William Fowlds hosted the popular ITV series “Vets on Safari” which mainly followed UK-based vet students on placement at his reserve, as well as featuring in the more recent BBC documentary “Operation Wild” hosted by Clare Balding.
Dr William Fowlds' day job includes darting lions, elephants and antelope, but in 2012 he was called out to a harrowing situation on the Kariega Game Reserve, about 20 km from his home on Amakhala Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape province. The situation was unlike anything he'd encountered before. Overnight, three rhinos had been illegally darted using veterinary drugs and the poachers had brutally removed bone, skin and horn with either machetes or axes, leaving the rhinos for dead. One rhino had, in fact, already died from its injuries but Themba, a male, and Thandi, a female, were still alive when they were discovered the next morning.
Dr William Fowlds' struggle to save Themba and Thandi made headline news around the world and he was interviewed on Sky News, BBC News, CNN and ABC television. In 2013 he was invited to tell the story of Thandi and Themba at the Royal Geographic Society in London, where Bear Grylls introduced him to an audience of over 700 people. Tragically, in 2014, over 1,200 rhino were poached in South Africa alone, and although 2015 statistics showed a slight decline, the situation is still harrowing.
Becoming involved with Thandi was the beginning of Medivet’s involvement in the campaign to save the rhino from extinction and in 2014 the partners of Medivet, following ongoing discussions with Will, decided to support his efforts in a more meaningful way. Medivet provided funds to purchase a digital X-ray machine which is used when treating the survivors of poaching attacks, as well as an iPad and software used to track rhinos undergoing treatment.