African Vet Conservation Volunteer
This exciting course takes place in locations around South Africa utilising a number of wildlife reserves in need of veterinary support. It is designed for people with a passion for wildlife and an interest in veterinary medicine. The course is very hands-on and allows you to be involved in all areas of animal capture, translocation and veterinary work. You won’t be sitting and watching, you will be actively participating, planning, and assisting in a small group for high quality learning experiences.
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
A hands on course, so you can improve your 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.
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 lion, 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. Weeks 2 and 3 are heavily focused on hands-on veterinary and game capture work.
3 weeks: £3,370
In order to cater our famous South African menu to all people, please note there is an additional £15 charge per week if you have a special diet, such as vegetarian, vegan, gluten intolerance etc.
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
A hard copy of ‘Chemical and Physical restraint of African Wild Animals’ - Third Edition
Access to our online couse to be completed before departure
Project coordinator on the ground 24/7
All entry in to national parks and reserves
Ground transportation related to the project
All your meals
WIFI in the accommodation
Laundry service once a week
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)
This project is now full for 2024 and 2025. If you want a wildlife vet project in Africa, check out our Kruger Vet Project for vet or nurse students, or Vet Visions if you are a pre-vet student or yet to begin your studies.
The project has set start dates throughout the year. You will arrive on a Sunday and depart on a Saturday. 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.
2nd - 22nd June (FULL)
7-27th July (FULL)
4-24th August (FULL)
1-21st September (FULL)
18 May - 7 June (FULL)
15 June - 5 July (FULL)
13 July - 2 August (FULL)
10 August - 30 August (FULL)
7 September - 27 September (FULL)
“The best part was the professional organization of this project. The whole team was super supportive of answering questions and ensuring everyone's safety the entire time. It was a learning experience, but it was also encouraged to enjoy the time there and getting to experience Africa. 10/10 would recommend to anyone wanting to experience the Africa wildlife. Definitely want to try and go again down the road!"
“Best part was that when working in the bush with animals, the livingstone team was extremely helpful. I was comfortable with asking them questions and help, which allowed me to learn many new things and this was fantastic. I arrived to this project without any prior experience in this field and left with so much veterinary knowledge, and for that I am very thankful!!!
It was also very fun to meet different veterinarians and interesting to see how they work."
We want you to join us in South Africa to enjoy the experience of a lifetime and to gain ample hands-on experience with African wildlife. Just hit the "apply now" button and fill in the form.
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