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Phinda Wildlife Research Project: 28 November - 12 December 2023*
The 22 hours on a plane and 5 hours I spent in a car to get to the conservation project were gruelling, but after arriving at the Shimongwe Wildlife Relocation and Veterinary Experience I could see that it was completely worth it. I spent two weeks with the Shimongwe team and I loved every encounter I had with the unique and exotic wildlife in South Africa. My favourite part of the experience was relocating animals. This was done by darting animals one by one, then administering vitamins, antibiotics, and vaccinations before loading them onto a truck to move to a different farm. This is a very important part of the conservation project because it redistributes genes to different animal populations in order to increase genetic variation. I gained so much experience giving shots to many different species of animals including roan, buffalo, and sable. I am happy to say that I was able to take these practical veterinary skills and apply them back home to the livestock on our farm.
I highly recommend this experience if you are at all interested in the veterinary or vet tech field. You will gain so much experience under a wonderful wildlife veterinarian as well as be encouraged to ask any and all questions you might have about the animals and the conservation efforts that are taking place to protect them.
While not out with the veterinarian, there were still many ways for me to help out. This includes feeding the antelope, ostriches, rhinos, and big cats as well as filling up water troughs and building friendships with the amazing staff.
I also highly recommend ACE if you plan on traveling to South Africa. They go above and beyond to make sure that their volunteers are safe, taken care of, and that they have a good experience. ACE made traveling during the covid pandemic completely stress-free and puts the volunteers above anything else. I cannot thank the wonderful people at ACE enough for the unforgettable trip I had in South Africa.