CSI surgery helps 83-year-old conservationist back onto his feet

Posted on 11 July 2013

An octogenarian game ranger was able to return to the job he loves after undergoing vital hip replacement surgery through Mediclinic Pietermaritzburg’s corporate social investment (CSI) programme.

You can view photos of Philemon on our Facebook page.

Prior to developing a severe hip problem, 83-year-old Philemon Ndlovu was the main rhino security ranger at Big Game Parks’ Mkhaya Game Reserve in Swaziland. He could outwalk most men half his age and his rigorous long-distance patrols often proved daunting to the younger rangers. In addition, he has the extraordinary skill of being able to recognise each and every one of the country’s black rhinos by their tracks. With Philemon at the helm, Swaziland’s record for rhino security was unmatched in Africa until June 2011. The country had gone 20 years without losing a single animal to poaching.

Knowing that not being able to work would be devastating to Philemon, his employer, Ted Reilly, set about finding a solution. Mediclinic believes in giving back to the communities it serves – and CSI plays an important role in this – so when he approached Mediclinic Pietermaritzburg, the hospital readily agreed to help with the costs. In addition a top team of doctors and nurses donated their time and expertise for the surgery.

“If it were not for the generosity of many people, I would be a disabled old man, reliant on my family to sustain me,” says Ranger Ndlovu.

Following the operation and after a few months’ recuperation at his home; Philemon resumed his duties at the game reserve in winter 2012. Although he was a little disappointed that he was not quite as nimble as he was before, he quickly came to terms with the fact that his long-range patrolling days were behind him, and today he relishes every opportunity to get back among the wildlife on one of the reserve’s vehicular patrols.

Mkhaya Game Reserve is Swaziland’s refuge for lowveld endangered and threatened species, and as such running the park involves specialised management of these animals. Philemon is in charge of the bomas – a temporary holding facility for recently captured animals or those that require extended veterinary care. These animals can be dangerous in confinement and therefore his wealth of experience is invaluable in this task.

“We at Big Game Parks are all very grateful to Mediclinic and the doctors and staff who gave so willingly and generously of their resources to get this tough game ranger back on his feet again,” concludes Ted.



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