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
Free 20 module online course included in the project fee
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 now fully booked for 2023 and 2024. If you want to join a similar wildlife vet project, hop on over to check out the amazing Kruger Vet Project.
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 pursue 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 is a free 20 module online course included in the cost of this project, which is to be completed before you arrive.
There are set start dates throughout 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 dehorning 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.