Shimongwe Wildlife Veterinary Experience

Live the life of an African wildlife vet.

In one of the most prolific wildlife areas of southern Africa, our Shimongwe Wildlife Veterinary Experience gives you the chance to join the day-to-day activities of experienced wildlife vets.

You’ll find yourself working up close with a range of Africa’s wildlife species – often in situations that are unpredictable and require you to think on your feet. This could involve learning how the vet darts animals, helping to capture and relocate wild animals, or assist with disease prevention and pregnancy testing in the field.

Depending on your goals and interests, we’ll pair you with an individual or team of vets to give you the best possible exposure to the skills and experiences you’d like to gain.

Rhino Rating


This tells you how physical the experience is. More >

2 out of 5 rhino rating

Wildlife Veterinary


Buffalo, giraffe, rhino, sable, roan antelope and many others


Wildlife veterinary work
Wildlife management


  South Africa

View all
  • Highlights
  • Do
  • Learn
  • News
  • Costs


A personalised veterinary experience

Our vet groups range in size from two to ten people, which means you’ll have a personalised experience assisting some of Africa’s most respected wildlife vets in their day-to-day work.

Get involved with animal darting

You’ll be a key member of the vet’s team when they dart wild buffalo, giraffe, rhino and other species. While the animal is immobilised you’ll be responsible for important tasks like monitoring its heart and breathing rates.

Learn new skills

You’ll be fully involved with the treatment and handling of wildlife, including responding to emergency call outs and learning how to immobilise wildlife and test for diseases.

Explore rural Africa

Working in the field, you’ll travel to many different wildlife reserves and explore Africa’s diverse ecosystems. You’ll also gain an insight into the culture of local towns and communities.

Support African wildlife conservation

As a veterinary volunteer, you’ll play an important role in treating and managing South Africa’s famous wildlife.


As a volunteer at Shimongwe, your role will be very hands-on. Depending on the animals being treated, the vet you’re partnered with, and your areas of interest, you’ll get involved in the following activities:

Darting, capturing and collaring

Animals need to be darted for treatment, relocation and monitoring purposes. Species you might get the chance to help dart include antelope, buffalo, giraffe, zebra and sometimes rhino.

  • Wildlife darting and game capture
  • Chemical immobilisation and sedation
  • Tagging, ear notching or fitting tracking collars to darted animals

Real field work

Your time will mostly be spent in the field and, depending on the vet you work with, you may also get to experience life inside a busy veterinary clinic too.

  • Treatment of injuries, wounds, health conditions and diseases
  • Disease testing and prevention
  • Pregnancy testing
  • Parasite control
  • Contraceptive work to control breeding in rehabilitation centres or manage populations of wildlife reserves


  • Humane rhino de-horning – learn about the pros and cons of this controversial topic from the people who actually carry out the procedure
  • Wildlife relocation to help manage populations across different regions


As well as gaining hands-on experience (which you can read about under the ‘do’ tab), you’ll also receive on-the-job training and get the chance to take part in lectures lead by experienced vets. Together, these will give you a unique understanding of the biology, behaviour and conservation of Africa’s wildlife.


  • Wildlife management’s role in conservation
  • The importance of genetic diversity in wildlife populations
  • Human-wildlife conflict in South Africa resulting from the spread of towns and cities
  • Rhino poaching, anti-poaching methods in the field and relocation programmes
  • African wildlife’s relationship to employment and tourism


  • The physiology and anatomy of various African wildlife species
  • The natural diet of these wildlife species


  • Animal behaviour both in the wild and in captivity

Lectures in the field

  • African wildlife diseases
  • Wildlife management
  • Darting, game capture and relocation
  • Veterinary drugs used in South Africa
  • Challenges of treating wild animals
  • Poaching
  • Breeding programmes
  • The role of hunting in conservation

Our costs include:


Airport Meet & Greet


24/7 Support

Personal Guidance


Cost Calculator


Looking for something bespoke?

You can volunteer at more than one project during your time in Africa. Please contact us for a bespoke quote including travel arrangements between locations.


Costs are subject to change but will be confirmed in writing at the time of booking.

ACE is an amazing organisation and I would definitely recommend going on one of their trips. ACE was there right when we arrived in South Africa and also when we left to make sure we were okay, safe, and well taken care of. You really get treated like family with this organisation and get to participate in the most unforgettable and life-changing experiences. I already can’t wait to go on another trip with ACE!

My days with the vet were always full and exciting, with a new unexpected challenge each day; this could be a day trip to de-horn rhinos, capturing giraffe or staying back at the clinic looking after some cheetah cubs.

Emma Vet Experience Profile Picture

I would highly recommend the Shimongwe Wildlife Veterinary Experience to anyone with a veterinary background, whether that be a vet/vet student or veterinary nurse/nurse student, who has an interest in wildlife and conservation and wants to test themselves and take their veterinary skills and knowledge to the next level.

It was without doubt the best trip of my life so far. Not only was it the perfect opportunity to help me stand out in my Veterinary Medicine University application but it has given me unforgettable memories and I met many inspiring people.

Amanda Barbosa

I highly recommend the Shimongwe Wildlife Veterinary Experience to anyone considering applying. You will not only gain useful veterinary knowledge and skills, you will also create amazing and unique memories in an astonishingly beautiful country.

Erin Dinneen

We decided to do the veterinary experience trip and to stay for 2 weeks. Let me tell you, 2 weeks flew by! We worked with a variety of animals, and we also got to meet and work with amazing people there. Africa is an amazing place to go and I can not wait to go back!

Kaitlyn Saul

Huge thanks to the vet team in Hoedspruit for welcoming me and teaching me so much valuable information that will transcend into the rest of my veterinary career. Also, thank you to African Conservation Experience for setting up this wonderful experience! Counting down the days when I can return!

Sophie Gates

The vet I was working with was an incredible teacher and always explained what he was doing and why. He always encouraged us to get involved and even let me take a ride in the helicopter!

Marc and Diane Bock

At Phinda our lives were enriched by the knowledge of our team leader in the many facets of wildlife management, whilst working with the wildlife veterinarians at Shimongwe was AWESOME. We were able to be a part of a team capturing wild animals for medical treatment, ID chip placement, and relocation.

Jack Miller

Some days we would be transporting buffalo to various camps, and so the vet would go up in the helicopter and dart the buffalo from the air. We would then chase down the buffalo by truck and transport them out of that camp and into another. This was truly exhilarating.

I have travelled with ACE 4 times now and each time it just gets better and better. The hands-on experience on the Shimongwe veterinary project is unparalleled and I am already planning my next trip.

I would advise anyone with a sense of adventure and willingness to work in a team to have a look at volunteering on any of the ACE programs.

The work the vets do to spread the message about conservation and the multiple chances they gave me to interact with wildlife, is beyond incredible and just being able to watch them, let alone get involved, is an absolute privilege.

What Makes Us Different?

Southern Africa's original conservation travel company

We are qualified zoologists and conservationists

Personal guidance before you book

Join real wildlife conservation projects

Enjoy total peace of mind, with 24/7 in-country support

Empower vital conservation initiatives


From Africa to your inbox, hear all the latest news