Dr Antonie Marinus Harthoorn

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26/08/1923
23/04/2012
Antonie Marinus Harthoorn, or 'Toni' Harthoorn (born 1922) is a veterinarian and environmentalist.
Harthoorn was born in Rotterdam and grew up in England. His father was an economist employed by Unilever who worked during the World War II as economic adviser for the Dutch government in exile. Toni studied veterinary science at the Veterinary College in London. During World War II he was trained as an officer in Sandhurst and Aldershot and became a commando, being one of the first to parachute into Arnhem during the relief of the Netherlands by Allied troops. After the war he graduated and continued to study at the universities of Utrecht and Hannover. He took a PhD in the physiology of mammalian shock and then went out to Kenya and Tanzania. There he studied the effects of various sedative drugs on wild African mammals and with a team invented the M-99 (etorphine hydrochloride) capture drug and refined the tranquilliser gun, or 'Capture gun', for darting animals. This was an enormous breakthrough in animal transport and enabled the safe movement of many rare animals from places in which they were at risk from poaching or development to game sanctuaries. The research effort and its eventual triumph is recorded in Dr Harthoorn's first book: The Flying Syringe. Capture gun technology is today used extensively in wildlife parks, urban animal management, criminal human capture and zoological gardens. Before the invention of this technology animals were usually caught manually by being rounded up, penned, and transported without sedation, resulting in the death from stress of many hundreds of animals.
In the 1960s the Hungarian-born American film and TV producer Ivan Tors came to Kenya on holiday and visited an animal orphanage set up by Dr Harthoorn and his wife, Sue Hart. Tors was so impressed by the idea that he developed a TV series named Daktari (Swahili for 'doctor') which ran worldwide for several decades. The name has persisted in the 21st century in various forms in the names of several trademarked drugs. The animal characters from this series, Clarence the cross-eyed lion and Judy the chimpanzee, are still fondly remembered. The Kenyan experience is recorded in Sue Hart's book Life with Daktari.
With Kenyan independence (1963) Dr Harthoorn's position as senior lecturer at the veterinary college in Nairobi was abruptly terminated (he was replaced without notice by one of his PhD students). He moved to South Africa and continued his work with large African mammals, including elephant and rhinoceros transport. His work was absolutely vital in the creation of many South African game reserves. He also had a vital role in the saving of thousands of animals marooned on small islands created by the rising waters of the newly formed Kariba Dam in 1959-1980 in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). The campaign to save the animals was dubbed Operation Noah.
Dr Harthoorn is also a naturopath and homoeopath. He lives near Pretoria, South Africa, with his extended family, and continues to work in environmental preservation.




A tranquilliser gun (also spelled tranquilizer gun or tranquillizer gun), capture gun, or dart gun, is a non-lethal gun used for capture via a special chemical.[1] Tranquilliser guns shoot darts filled with tranquilliser that, when injected, temporarily sedate an animal or human, so that it may be handled (or captured) safely. The tranquilliser can be a sedative, anaesthetic, [2] or paralytic agent. Tranquilliser guns have a long history of use for capturing wildlife without injury. Tranquilliser darts can also be fired by crossbow or breath-powered blowgun.While for thousands of years various tribal peoples have used poisoned arrows, (for example tipped with Curare), to incapacitate animals before killing them, the modern tranquilliser gun was invented only in the 1950s by New Zealander Colin Murdoch.[3] While working with colleagues who were studying introduced wild goat and deer populations in New Zealand, Murdoch had the idea that the animals would be much easier to catch, examine, and release if a dose of tranquilliser could be administered by projection from afar. Murdoch went on to develop a range of rifles, darts, and pistols that have had an enormous impact on the treatment and study of animals around the world.
In Kenya in the early 1960s, a team headed by Dr. Tony Pooley and Dr. Toni Harthoorn discovered that various species, despite being of roughly equal size (for example, the rhinoceros and the buffalo), needed very different doses and spectra of drugs to safely immobilise them.