Evolution of a Wildlife Veterinarian: Single Species to Populations and into One Health (Seminar)

3 rhinos walking on farm road

Event Date

1105 Vet Med 3B, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine

Featured Speaker: Michael Kock, BVetMed, MPVM, MRCVS

Presented by Students for One Health (SOH) & the One Health Institute

The combination of a Residency in Zoo and Wildlife Medicine and an MPVM (Epidemiology) at UC Davis provided the basis for developing a career in wildlife and conservation. Dr. Kock’s talk will cover the early years (1980-1987) at Davis where the foundations for a wildlife veterinary career were laid. He returned to Africa after California and his specialised work with both rhino and elephant will be highlighted. Ten years (2003-2012) working for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) allowed Dr Kockto travel and work in 14 African countries; many, such as South Sudan, provided exceptional challenges. He will share his unique experiences, applying the skills of a wildlife veterinarian and epidemiologist in a holistic approach to work on health and livelihood issues within communities both in protected areas and on the boundaries in Africa. Working with a single species such as a black rhinoceros is necessary when they are threatened by poaching. Sometimes requiring immobilization and translocation to safer areas or dehorning. As Dr. Kock emphasizes in his talk, when  trying to conserve biological diversity, people DO matter. Inequality and poverty robs people of choice and are key drivers in illegal activities. Population growth exacerbates this situation and places pressure on wild landscapes. As veterinarians, if we are to be successful in addressing complex conservation problems, we need to adopt a One Health approach. See how we can use (One) Health as an important part of the ‘Conservation Toolbox.'


Born in South Africa and raised in Zimbabwe, Mike qualified from the Royal Veterinary College, University of London, UK in 1976. In 1980 he moved to Davis to start a Zoological Medicine Residency under Professor Murray Fowler, this was followed by epidemiologic training leading to a Masters of Preventive Veterinary Medicine (MPVM). His time at UC Davis was pivotal in the development of a wildlife career which has spanned 39 years. After Davis, Mike returned to Africa where he has spent 31 years working in 14 African countries based out of the Western Cape, South Africa. He has specialized in elephant (savanna and forest) and rhino work for much of his career but has a strong focus on rural communities, their health and livelihoods. He is a pioneer of Conservation Medicine and One Health. He has been involved in many training programs both during his days in California working with the California Department of Fish and Game and in Zimbabwe. For 30 years Dr. Kock has been involved in the Zimbabwe Course in the “Chemical and Physical Restraint of Wild Animals”, a world renowned course with students from around the worldIn 2019 the course trained veterinarians and wildlife biologist from 18 different countries.

Snacks and beverages will be provided—please email eecho@ucdavis.edu if you have any questions.