African Vet Conservation Volunteer

South Africa

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.

  • 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. 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.  


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

We pride ourselves on this being the most hands on wildlife vet course available in Africa. 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.



We take 6-8 students on any course and most of the time you will be in single sex shared rooms. From your lodge style room at Goedmoed, you will enjoy being able to see wildlife like giraffe, zebra and antelope from the garden. There is a kitchen and shared communal area, with an outside 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, though you will not be at risk of them coming near your living area sue to safety fences.



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 is a 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.


The cost of this 3 week course is £2,390.

Tight on time? Join us for the first two weeks of the course for £1740.

This is a three week course with lectures and work spaced over the duration of your stay. However, if you are short on time, we will accept volunteers to attend the first two weeks only. This is a great way to sample some wildlife work and get the basics under your belt. Do remember that we carry out a lot of game capture in the third week, which is very beneficial to concluding your knowledge and is one of the most adrenaline filled and hands on parts of the course. 



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

· Shared accommodation

· Laundry service


What is not included:

· Flights to/from South Africa

· Personal medical insurance

· Visa for South Africa (free to many nationalities)

· Any ‘extra activities’ you wish to do. (we suggest budgeting 5,000 to 10,000 Rand for the 3 week course)


The project has set start dates throughout the year. We can also run private courses if you have a group of 6 or more  people for outside of these dates. Please email us to discuss this.

  • 10th May to 23rd May

  • 21st June to 4th July

  • 9th August to 28th August

  • 31st August to 18th September

Want to hear more? Leave your info and we’ll get back to you.

Image by Maurits Bausenhart
Project Photos