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Shimongwe Wildlife Veterinary Experience
Work with a wildlife vet in South Africa
In one of the most wildlife prolific areas of southern Africa, Shimongwe Wildlife Veterinary Experience offers you the opportunity to join the day to day activities of our experienced wildlife veterinarians in the field, treating and handling wildlife. Much of the work can be related to wildlife industries such as game capture and relocation, thereby maximising your exposure to surrounding reserves and the wildlife's natural habitat.
- Veterinary procedures in the field and clinic
- Game capture assistance, immobilising animals in the field using darting techniques
- Animal translocation
- Medical work on sick and injured widllife
- Medical work on domesticated animals and livestock
- Disease control and blood sampling within breeding populations
- Learn about veterinary drugs and uses
Veterinary work is essential to the preservation and protection of rare and endangered species endemic to Africa. The value of this project is heightened by the relationship between the wildlife vets we work with and the wildlife industries of southern Africa.
Video introduction to the Shimongwe Wildlife Veterinary Experience
Earnotching rhino is a frequent task for a wildlife vet
Wildlife vets are often called on to dart wildlife
Volunteers assisting with the treatment and relocation of lions
A lot of wildlife veterinary work is linked to wildlife capture operations
Wildlife capture and treatment often involves relocating wildlife, which might turn into a battle of wills!
Relocating some species is a bit trickier...
Depending on ability levels, volunteers get very hands on with the wildlife
Work with king cheetah
The veterinary experience gives volunteers access to a wide variety of exciting wildlife
Treating injured cheetah
Dr Rogers and his students were called out to treat an injured cheetah.
Recording the cases is also an important part of wildlife veterinary work and an opportunity to learn from the vets.
Sable antelope pregnancy test
Sable antelopes are rare and valuable and vets frequently perform pregnancy tests at breeding programmes.
Volunteers on the veterinary programme frequently work with a wide variety of antelope species.
Night time call out
Veterinary work is unpredictable - a busy day can extend well into the night
Leopards with research collars are occasionally darted to replace collars.
Elephant ear infection
Wildlife vets need to be creative when it comes to treatments - how do you reach an elephant's ear to treat it for an ear infection?
Student treating zebra
When dealing with less dangerous species like zebra, students often get to perform minor procedures themselves.
Disease free buffalo
South Africa has a large trade in disease free buffalo, so all wildlife vets and their volunteers frequently work with buffalo.
Hand rearing rhino
Dr. Masterson holds a zoo license which allows him to hand rear wildlife and the veterinary volunteers help with looking after his young rhinos.
Farm and domestic animals
Some vets also operate small animal clinics or do farm animal vet consulting work alongside the wildlife veterinary work.
Some of the wildlife vets also run small animal clinics. These students helped deliver some puppies by emergency cesarean.
Accommodation Dr Rogers
The accommodation varies at each vet. Volunteers might be lodged in camps with huts and tents with Dr. Rogers.
Accommodation Dr. Masterson
Other accommodation includes a share house on Dr. Masterson's farm, a home stay with Dr. Kriel's family or a lodge near Dr. Muller.
Work with the wildlife
We work with a number of veterinarians, all of whom are very well established. You will join the day to day activities of the vets in the field and, depending on the vet, in the clinic, in South Africa, working with animals ranging from endangered and rare antelope, southern African antelope, buffalo, giraffe, rhino and occasionally lions, elephant and leopard. Depending on the wildlife vet you join, veterinary work may include the following:
Veterinary procedures in the field and clinic
- All wildlife vets work in the field, in surrounding game reserves, on private land and farm land. Veterinary work in the field can often be time consuming, but incredibly rewarding, once an animal is found and treated in some vast reserves in which the vets work. Reserves vary from small private holdings to large reserves home to the 'Big 5", where the wildlife experience is extensive. As a volunteer, you will be responsible for ensuring the animals treated are comfortable and for monitoring the effect of the anaesthesia on vital signs, such as respiratory rate and heart rate. You will also be responsible for assisting in the preparation and administration of low schedule drugs.
- Veterinary procedures can range from operations in the field to working on livestock or within specific wildlife breeding facilities. Depending on the vet, you may also be involved in domesticated animal work in the clinics.
Game capture and translocation
- Many wildlife vets work alongside the game capture industry providing the experience essential for using high schedule drugs in darting animals and being on hand for larger species movements. You will assist with the immobilisation of animals and their safe transportation when moving between reserves or to other countries for breeding programmes.
- Work alongside the specialised capture teams working with rare and valuable species.
Medical work on sick and injured wildlife
- You will assist vets with the diagnosis and treatment of various injuries, conditions and diseases of animals, monitoring the animal's health and providing support to the vet.
Medical work on domesticated animals and livestock
- Depending on the vet you are working with, you may work within a clinic environment, treating domesticated animals and working with livestock on surrounding farms. Domesticated animal work is interesting and can often be associated to the dangers of living in a bush environment, such as snake bites or attacks by baboons.
- Farming is still a main income for many locals in South Africa, and depending on the vet you are placed with, you will assist with disease control in herds, management and vaccinations.
Disease control and blood sampling, crucial for disease free buffalo breeding programmes and endangered and rare breeding populations. You will be involved in blood sampling and testing for these populations.
Learn about veterinary drugs and uses
- While working in a professional environment, vets will often give you a briefing before you go out into the field to explain the drugs that will be used or techniques and why. Medical drugs and working techniques can differ in every country and between vets. The particular use of M99 will be explained and the dangers of this drug to the human system.
Shimongwe Limpopo Veterinary Experience
Shimongwe Limpopo Veterinary Experience volunteers work in the wildlife reserves of South Africa's northern province. The supervising vet owns a clinic in the local town, where volunteers are based and run clinical consultations, assisting with medical work on sick and injured domesticated species, and vaccinations of animals. The two wildlife vets from the clinic also work out in the field, mainly working with the wildlife industries of breeding programmes of rare species such as disease free buffalo and lion breeding programmes. The supervising vet also owns a private game reserve where volunteers often have sleep outs and game drives, giving a rich wildlife experience.
Shimongwe Lowveld Veterinary Experience
Shimongwe Lowveld Veterinary Experience allows you to work on many high profile veterinary cases in the wildlife rich lowveld area of South Africa. The supervising vet is very well known and works within renowned reserves in the area, while also being involved in clinic work in the local town. Both wildlife and domesticated animals are treated at the clinic, although the majority of wildlife cases are treated in the field.
Shimongwe Greater Kruger Veterinary Experience
Volunteering at Shimongwe Greater Kruger Veterinary Experience gives a fantastic insight into the wildlife industries of southern Africa, working specifically on disease free buffalo and the rare sable and roan antelope which the supervising vet runs a breeding programme for. A fantastic project for more experience veterinary students, this project offers a very hands on experience, working with a wide variety of species in some of the largest reserves bordering Kruger National Park.
Shimongwe Bundox Veterinary Experience
Working alongside the resident veterinarian of a successful game capture team, you will be exposed to many elements of wildlife veterinary work within a dynamic industry. You will join the day to day activities of the resident vet alongside the specialist capture team and general game capture team, learning about conservation medicine and chemical immobilisation. A rewarding experience for volunteers to assist with specialised capture work with rare species such as rhino, buffalo, nyala, sable and roan antelope.
Hear from other volunteers who've visited Shimongwe Wildlife Veterinary Experience
Sarah Brookes - Gap Year Volunteer
The vet dart struck the perfect muscle in just enough time as her pride moved closer... taking the temperature of a lioness while her pride circled us was pretty hair raising!
Less than 24 hours in country and I was working on two of the big five! With serious puncture wounds to its face and flanks, the black rhino required immediate treatment. This was no small task akin to finding a needle in a haystack - a wounded rhino amid 20,000 hectare area of dense vegetation. Infected and maggot ridden, we treated the wounds and moved him to an isolation compound until fully recovered. 'Just like leading a horse' was our instruction; blindfold the rhino, wake him up and lead him on a tether into a trailer. Leading a two and a half tonne male rhino who's nursing a hangover on the end of a rope is quite a challenge!
I has a wonderful time, ACE were super friendly and personal - you should stay that way
Ruby Shorrock, September 2010
This trip has been a life changing experience. The vet and his team have the most incredible job and i feel priveleged to have been apart of it. Their dedication and passion was infectious and i am truly inspired by them. I cannot thank them enough! The beauty of the country and the wildlife is indescribable and i would recommend everyone to go if they get the chance. It is an opportunity not be to be missed! I loved it so much, I was home for barely 20 minutes before i had booked to go again next year for 5 weeks! South Africa gets into your blood, no matter how long you are there for. I will never be able to stay away for long! ACE made all this possible, so i am forever grateful to them. The amount of work they put into making sure everyone has a great trip is amazing, and I hope they carry one for many years to come. So thank you, thank you, thank you for everything!
Danielle Greaves, September 2010
Ihad an amazing time with Dr Kriel (Shimongwe Limpopo Veterinary Experience), it was amazing both Shannon and Niel are amazing vets, i could have not had dreamed for a better experience, and i am very grateful to both of them, as well as Jackie and Alfie for such wonderful care and love that were given. And I have met some of the greatest people in the world, to experience it with. Thank you so much to everybody !!!!!!
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