ACE provided me with the trip of a lifetime! I participated in the Shimongwe Wildlife Veterinary Experience with Dr. Klopper for two weeks and then volunteered at Care for Wild Africa Rhino Sanctuary for five days. I chose to participate in the Shimongwe Wildlife Veterinary Experience because I am currently a pre-veterinary student in university and wanted to gain hands-on experience with wildlife veterinary medicine – and that is exactly what I got, so much hands-on experience!
I honestly wasn’t expecting to get as much hands-on experience as I did, but it was definitely a pleasant surprise. My days working with Dr. Klopper were always exciting. Most of our time was spent at game farms darting, medicating, and relocating various types of antelope with the occasional buffalo or zebra. Dr. Klopper always made time to educate us on exactly what we were doing, why we were doing it and how to perform the medical treatments correctly. After the animal was darted Dr. Klopper allowed us to administer injections, monitor the breathing rates of the animals and assist him with more difficult procedures.
When we weren’t out on game farms we were at the Blouberg Clinic where Dr. Klopper works and got experience with small animal medicine as well! On the weekends when the clinic is closed we got the opportunity to go on trips to places such as Kruger National Park and even a resort! The accommodation on this trip was nothing short of great and the food was also very good. If you are planning on attending veterinary school in the future or are currently attending I would definitely recommend this trip, you will not be disappointed!
In 2016 I founded my own apparel company called Radiant Rhinos in which we donate 20% of all net profits to the International Rhino Foundation to help conserve and protect the rhinos. Poaching is a huge threat to rhinos and I knew I wanted to help. After starting my business almost three years ago I have become extremely passionate about rhino conservation which is why I chose to volunteer at Care for Wild Africa Rhino Sanctuary during the last leg of my trip to South Africa. I had been following Care for Wild and their rhinos ever since I started my business and being able to actually go there and directly help was a dream come true.
Most of my time volunteering at the sanctuary was spent preparing the rhino milk and food, cleaning the bomas where the rhinos stayed, and helping out with various other tasks such as washing the anti-poaching unit’s horses! The staff at Care for Wild always made time to educate us on the rhinos and rhino conservation and would even give educational presentations on topics such as the differences between black and white rhinos, what exactly Care for Wild does and how it was started!
While at Care for Wild a wildlife veterinarian visited twice to help treat a new rhino calf that had arrived a few days prior and as a pre-veterinary student and someone who wants to work with rhinos as a veterinarian in the future this was the most amazing experience. The veterinarian walked us through everything he was doing and even let us monitor the calf’s breathing rate. Even though I was only at the sanctuary for five days I felt as though I got to experience so much but I would recommend staying at this placement for a week or two minimum because I wish I had stayed longer. The accommodation and food at Care for Wild were both great as well.
Overall, 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!