On a small farm situated just at the meeting point of Johannesburg's wild countryside and sprawling suburbia lies the Johannesburg Wildlife Vet (JWV) — a home to Gauteng's hurt and most threatened indigenous wild animals.
The rapid, unregulated expansion of city limits over the past 100 years has forced the indigenous, often endangered wildlife that used to roam free into the suburbs, townships, and gated estates – where their lives, and the tranquillity of residents, are now in danger. The animals are poisoned, maimed or killed. The humans are terrified. And both end up encroaching on each other's territory.
With development showing no sign of slowing down, the JWV has become one of the only spaces where specialised treatment is offered to these dislocated animals. Through its doors come a steady stream of indigenous lizards, mongooses, bats, owls, snakes, primates – and worryingly, the critically endangered pangolins that call northern South Africa home, but who are caught in the city when smugglers' cargoes are intercepted en route to illegal markets.
When HuffPost visited the JWV, we experienced a few hours in the day of the pioneering organisation. We watched as a monitor lizard that had been domesticated by its owners, but then became too big for them to look after, was tagged with a tracking device so that it could be set free in the wild.
Shortly earlier, a woman came in holding a recently deceased wild genet, hoping something could be done to save the exotic-looking creature. The animal was dead on arrival, but its DNA would still be useful to keep on file for research purposes, the staff assured her.
The Good Samaritan then told them that people were staring at the genet as it lay dying, while she was trying to save it, asking what an exotic animal was doing in the area in the first place.
"We're the exotic ones!" she cried incredulously, covered in genet hair. "Why are we living in their area?"
Later in the enclosures, we got to see more than 40 giant tortoises, a massive owl, a whole wall of insectivorous bats, and a family of happy-looking bushbabies, all of which would likely have met the same fate as the genet without the existence of the JWV.
It is this, and the tireless efforts of people who work for nonprofit organisations, that has made the JWV something of a social-media sensation, where they are able to raise funds for their projects and raise awareness of the crises facing the lives of Johannesburg's indigenous creatures.
Follow them on Facebook, where you can get involved with their extraordinary efforts, and watch our video below, to learn more about them.