Nirvana is currently studying at the University of Edinburgh, UK.

When did I first realise, I wanted to be a vet?

I must have been around 13 years old when I decided I was going to be a vet. I always used to tune into Animal Planet and watch as many animal-related programmes as possible. Then when I started senior school, I really enjoyed my science classes – in particular biology. Admittedly, I initially wanted to be a zookeeper but my aptitude for science meant veterinary medicine looked like a promising path and it’s stuck with me ever since.

What is my motivation to become a vet?

Humans and animals are inextricably linked, and I’ve realised that one of my greatest motivations it not just to help animals, but also help the people that come with them! It’s a massively important part of being a vet that’s sometimes forgotten. Showing compassion for both people and animals is so critical to be a successful veterinarian.

My biggest tip if you want to study to become a vet is…

“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde

If you have the drive to become a vet, you will get there. Make sure you let your personality shine through when applying and don’t be afraid to be different. The admissions team want to learn about what makes you a good student and not necessarily that you’ve milked 402 cows and walked 14 dogs at the same time (although that’s pretty impressive).

The hardest thing about being a vet is…

We can’t talk to our patients! As a Doctor, you can ask your patient “Where does it hurt?” – but of course, as a vet this is a bit tricky. But whilst this is a difficult aspect of the profession, I find it’s also one of the most interesting. It’s like doing a puzzle; we use diagnostics to investigate what we think is wrong with the animal and hopefully come up with a plan to fix it. However, sometimes there isn’t anything you can do, and this can be a difficult challenge when your main motivation is to make things better.

What is my favourite animal?

It’s a bit of a strange animal but ever since my wildlife placement on the Eastern Cape of South Africa I’ve been fascinated by Sable antelope. I thought they looked so majestic with their massive sweeping horns and long faces with white colouring. Somewhere between a giraffe, zebra and an oryx – strange but beautiful. It’s because of their horns that they are often a target for trophy hunters, with males with the largest horns and the glossiest coats being picked off first…

My favourite animal related story is…

One of the reasons the Sable antelope is now one of my favourite animals is because whilst in South Africa we did multiple captures and translocations of both males and pregnant females. They were tricky animals to anaesthetise and with the added danger of those massive horns, we had to be on our toes all the time. By the end of it, our team of students were called ‘The Sables’ because we’d completed so many successful manoeuvres! Even though they might not be the prettiest animal, they will always hold a soft spot in my heart.

My favourite animal photo I have taken is…

No, I know what you’re thinking – not a Sable this time! A mother Northern white rhino and her 2-week old calf at foot. We’d been trying to get a glimpse of the pair for over a week when we finally came across them trundling through the bush. It was a truly moving moment to see them together, knowing just how critically endangered these animals. The baby ran around its mothers’ legs and you can see the tracking device attached to keep her safe. I just adore the light and colour in this image and although it’s not one of my most spectacular images, for me it symbolises one small success story within the conservation of African wildlife.

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