Shimongwe Wildlife Veterinary Experience

An exciting opportunity to work with a wildlife vet on many of Africa's iconic species

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 and clinic, 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.

Shimongwe volunteer injecting lion

Conservation Value

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.

  • Shimongwe Video
  • Work with king cheetah
  • Elephant field treatment
  • Student treating zebra
  • Darting lion
  • Giraffe capture
  • Relocating lions
  • Relocate rhino
  • Relocate elephant
  • Injecting elephant
  • Treating injured cheetah
  • Taking notes
  • Sable antelope pregnancy test
  • Antelope
  • Night time call out
  • Leopard ID
  • Lion paw
  • Treating lion
  • Elephant ear infection
  • Earnotching rhino
  • Disease free buffalo
  • Farm and domestic animals
  • Vet Accommodation
  • Inside Vet Accommodation
  • Communal Kitchen
  • Communal sitting area
  • Injecting male Lion
  • Vulture in clinic
  • Ridgeback treatment in clinic
  • Buffalo blindfolded

Shimongwe Video

Video introduction to the Shimongwe Wildlife Veterinary Experience

Work with king cheetah

The veterinary experience gives volunteers access to a wide variety of exciting wildlife

Work with king cheetah

Elephant field treatment

Some animals don't fit in the clinics!

Elephant field treatment

Student treating zebra

When dealing with less dangerous species like zebra, students often get to perform minor procedures themselves.

Student treating zebra

Darting lion

Wildlife vets are often called on to dart wildlife

Darting lion

Giraffe capture

A lot of wildlife veterinary work is linked to wildlife capture operations

Giraffe capture

Relocating lions

Volunteers assisting with the treatment and relocation of lions

Relocating lions

Relocate rhino

Wildlife capture and treatment often involves relocating wildlife, which might turn into a battle of wills!

Relocate rhino

Relocate elephant

Relocating some species is a bit trickier...

Relocate elephant

Injecting elephant

Depending on ability levels, volunteers get very hands on with the wildlife

Injecting elephant

Treating injured cheetah

Dr Rogers and his students were called out to treat an injured cheetah.

Treating injured cheetah

Taking notes

Recording the cases is also an important part of wildlife veterinary work and an opportunity to learn from the vets.

Taking notes

Sable antelope pregnancy test

Sable antelopes are rare and valuable and vets frequently perform pregnancy tests at breeding programmes.

Sable antelope pregnancy test

Antelope

Volunteers on the veterinary programme frequently work with a wide variety of antelope species.

Antelope

Night time call out

Veterinary work is unpredictable - a busy day can extend well into the night

Night time call out

Leopard ID

Leopards with research collars are occasionally darted to replace collars.

Leopard ID

Lion paw

Lion paw

Treating lion

Treating lion

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?

Elephant ear infection

Earnotching rhino

Earnotching rhino is a frequent task for a wildlife vet

Earnotching rhino

Disease free buffalo

South Africa has a large trade in disease free buffalo, so all wildlife vets and their volunteers frequently work with buffalo.

Disease free buffalo

Farm and domestic animals

Some vets also operate small animal clinics or do farm animal vet consulting work alongside the wildlife veterinary work.

Farm and domestic animals

Vet Accommodation

Veterinary project accommodation located within the South African bush

Vet Accommodation

Inside Vet Accommodation

The houses are comfortable with the basic facilities available

Inside Vet Accommodation

Communal Kitchen

African style kitchens with basic facilities for communal use

Communal Kitchen

Communal sitting area

Comfortable sitting area that volunteers can use at will

Communal sitting area

Injecting male Lion

Working with an iconic member of the Big 5

Injecting male Lion

Vulture in clinic

Careful handling of sick and injured wildlife

Vulture in clinic

Ridgeback treatment in clinic

Veterinary clinics where pets, domesticated animals and wildlife receive treatment.

Ridgeback treatment in clinic

Buffalo blindfolded

Animals are blindfolded to reduce the stress of treatment

Buffalo blindfolded

"Martin the ground coordinator was amazing...When I arrived at my host family's house they showed me round and were so welcoming... I felt right at home! Dr Rogers is the best vet I have ever been able to work with, he explains everything so well and lets you get really hands on so I felt like I learned so much. I got to work with 4 of the big 5!... but also saw cheetah, wild dogs, sable and golden wildebeest!"

Sophie Gates, Shimongwe Wildlife Veterinary Experience

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 very occasionally iconic species such as lion, elephant and leopard. The veterinary teams work closely with the southern African wildlife industries and breeding programmes enhancing your exposure to the wildlife industry in South Africa. 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 the 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 are placed with, you may also be involved in wildlife and domesticated animal cases treated at the clinic.

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. 
  • Learn about conservation medicine and chemical immobilisation. A rewarding experience to assist with specialised capture work with rare species such as buffalo, nyala, sable and roan antelope.

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 of diseases with these populations. 

Learn about veterinary drugs and their 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.
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Hear from other volunteers who've visited Shimongwe Wildlife Veterinary Experience

The vet dart struck the perfect muscle in just enough time as her pride moved closer... taking the t... click for more...

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!

Sarah Brookes - Gap Year Volunteer

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!

Cerrie Perrett

I has a wonderful time, ACE were super friendly and personal - you should stay that way

Crystal Feingold

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!

Ruby Shorrock, 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 !!!!!!

Danielle Greaves, September 2010

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Your placement cost includes return flights and carbon offsets (if selected), return transfers from Johannesburg Airport to your project, all accommodation, meals (at most projects), transfers between projects if you are volunteering at more than one project, the 24 hour support of our South African ground manager, ACE T-Shirts, and, of course, the contributions to the projects, without which they could not operate. Read more about the costs, where your money goes and financing your volunteering placement here