African Vet Conservation Volunteer
This exciting course takes place in the Western Cape of South Africa, on game reserves around the beautiful ‘Garden Route’. It is designed for people with a passion for wildlife and an interest in veterinary medicine. The course is very hands-on and allows volunteers to be involved in all areas of capture and veterinary work. You won’t be sitting and watching, you will be actively participating, planning, and assisting with a maximum of 11 other students.
Spend your days working with wildlife vets and game capture teams
Participate in darting, surgery, game capture and internal medicine for wildlife
Combine lectures, practicals and clinical work to excel your knowledge
Our most hands on course, so you can improve your clinical skills
Perfect for people interested in zoo, wildlife or exotics vet medicine
Work with iconic species such as rhino, elephant, buffalo, leopard and lions
Stay in a beautiful safari reserve as you live, breathe and work in the African bush
This course is intensive, and aims to send you home confident with planning, carrying out and understanding the logistics surrounding wildlife work. This is of great benefit if you wish to peruse a career in exotics, wildlife or zoo work. The course is capped at 12 participants to ensure the best learning experience. Your project coordinator, Hein Schoeman, is a wildlife professional with 14 years of experience. Hein and the vet team are enthusiastic and patient teachers that make the experience even more exciting and fun. You will join us as a friend, and leave as family.
There are set start dates through the year and you can attend for 2 or 3 weeks.
Week 1 focuses on field training, lectures, practical work and equipping you with skills and knowledge for the weeks ahead.
Week 2 and 3 are heavily focused on hands on veterinary and game capture work.
Students work Monday to Friday and have weekends off. You can choose to join for a 2 or 3 weeks stay. During the week you will enjoy both lecture and practical based teaching in the following areas:
Ethical considerations when working with wildlife
Wildlife physiology and pharmacology
Stress and captured related death
Safety and first aid in the field
Principles of chemical and physical restraint of wild animals
Helicopter use in wildlife work, you will practice darting from a helicopter
Chemical immobilization and methods of injecting and darting
Ballistics and projectile darting systems
You will be living in one of the most renowned and well managed wildlife areas on the planet. The management, rescue and care of wildlife is as varied as it is exciting. From routine work, to fast paced emergencies, some of the procedures you may be involved in include:
DNA sampling. Species could include antelope like Bontebok, Impala, Sable and Roan Antelope.
Zebra, impala and giraffe movement between game reserves.
Rhino de-horning to fight the illegal poaching trade.
Darting lions or elephants for medical treatment such as snare or fight wounds.
Immobilising buffalo and antelope to measure horn size for animals for sale.
TB testing in buffalo.
Microchip implant insertion for carnivores.
Fitting collars to animals that will be tracked for research.
Transmitter darting for animals in thick bush or at night.
Mineral and vitamin injections delivered by darting.
Deworming herbivores and other routine husbandry care, like hoof trimming and dipping
Every student will get ample experience in all aspects of wildlife management, treatment and medicine. On a normal game capture day, we may find ourselves catching over 50 animals, each needing a blood and faecal sample taken, identifying tags or spray applied, multivitamin injections and drug reversal given at the right moment. These jobs fall on to our volunteers, under the expert guidance of the head vet, so we can guarantee that you will get huge volumes of animals to work with.
There is no such thing as a ‘normal’ day. The first few days of the course will be your induction days. In this time we head out on bush walks and game drives to better understand the environment and animals you will be working with, visit the helicopter hanger and go for a flight, meet the local rhino herd, feed the rescued giraffes who have been hand raised, enjoy dynamic lectures and visit a reptile park to practice handling and husbandry.
Most mornings we are up around 7 am, have a quick breakfast and are out whilst the temperatures are still cool. We then travel to the reserve where we will be working for the day with a packed lunch and carry out game capture until all the animals are moved or treated. If we are taking an animal to surgery that day, the start may be a little later and treat ourselves to a fry up for breakfast! Surgeries may be at the game reserve, or for smaller wildlife like birds, small felines, or valuable breeding stock, we may move the animal to a veterinary hospital for the procedure.
At the end of a working day, we think it is important for you to relax and enjoy the company of your new friends. We run movie nights, party nights, head out to the hills to star gaze with a hot chocolate, or enjoy a drink at the honesty bar whilst playing card games. Our staff live in the house next to yours so they mingle and spend time with you during the evenings too.
We have a core team of vets who you will shadow for game capture and receive your lectures from, but you may also spend days with other wildlife vets when they have exciting cases that we feel can benefit your learning. Our team of vets are all wildlife specialists and love explaining the cases as we go along, and teaching volunteers.
Volunteers stay in single sex shared rooms on the reserve of Goedmoed. It is not unusual to spot wildlife passing the house including giraffe, zebra and antelope. There is a welcoming farm style kitchen and shared communal area with TV, DVD and board games plus an outside bar and fire pit to enjoy sitting under the African stars.
All accommodation outside of Goedmoed will be in comfortable farm houses or lodges with either solar power or electricity. Living on African reserves is a wonderful experience. You may hear the calls of lions, zebra, leopard or hyena from your rooms.
The project is based on the south eastern coast of South Africa, known as the Garden Route. Named after the rolling hills and picturesque landscapes that are sandwiched between the Outeniqua Mountains and the Indian Ocean, this malaria free area supports a huge amount of wildlife, so our vet and capture teams are busy throughout the year.
As you arrive at ’George’ airport, you will step off the plane to meet your team, including Hein Schoeman , your project coordinator, and your fellow students. The project is based on Goedmoed Reserve and when work requires us elsewhere, we may spend nights at different game parks, lodges, and rescue sanctuaries.
You can attend the course for 2 or 3 weeks. Week 1 is focused on field training, lectures, practical work and equipping you with skills and knowledge for the weeks ahead. Week 2 and 3 are heavily focused on hands on veterinary and game capture work.
2 weeks: £2000
3 weeks: £2750
Want to know what’s included in the project cost? Great news, it is pretty much everything! Including:
Pre departure assistance with planning and flights from one of our destination specialists
Transfers to and from the airport
Project coordinator on the ground 24/7
All entry in to national parks and reserves
Ground transportation related to the project
All your meals
WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED
Flights to/from South Africa
Personal medical insurance
Visa for South Africa (free to many nationalities)
Any ‘extra activities’ or alcoholic beverages (we suggest budgeting £500 for the 3 week course)
The project has set start dates throughout the year. Most courses are 3 weeks long although we run one 2 week short course each year. We can also run private courses on alternative dates if you have a group of 6 or more people. Please email us to discuss this.
17th April - 7th May
15th May - 28th May (2 week short course)
5th June - 25th June
3rd July - 23rd July
7th August - 27th August
4th September - 24th September
14th May - 27th May (2 week short course)
4th June - 24th June
16th July - 5th August
13th August - 2nd September
10th September - 30th September
WHAT IF I CAN’T ATTEND DUE TO COVID?
Don’t fear! We have FLEXIBOOKINGS in place for all our projects. If you book a trip with us and have paid for the trip (deposit or in full), we have protocols in place to ensure you don’t miss out. Our main aim is for you to be able to attend your project in a safe and convenient manner so the FLEXIBOOKING system allows free and unlimited date changes if Covid prevents you from attending your planned trip. In the case of the following problems, you can reschedule until the end of 2023 at no cost. N.B if the project price rises between years, we will ask you to make up the difference before travel.
A) Your home country cancels flights to the project location, or your government advises against “all but essential travel” to the destination due to Covid.
B) Destination country cancels flights or closes borders to your home country due to Covid.
C) If you get Covid before travel or have a positive PCR test before your flight, wherever possible we aim to reschedule your project free of charge. For this project we may request a repayment of the non-refundable deposit, as a set number of people are required to run the course.
If you choose to cancel your trip for other reasons, refund value depends on the time left until your project start date. Please contact us if you wish to discuss this further.
We want you to join us in South Africa to enjoy the experience of a life time and to ample hands on experience with African wildlife. Just fill in the form below and we will be in touch with you right away.