Vets Go Wild is a conservation-based veterinary module that was established in 2008 and its objective is to conduct theoretical and practical training focused on the role of veterinary science in the context of African wildlife conservation.
The 16-day module provides a field-based wildlife veterinary management program for international veterinary students with an interest and passion for wildlife. The experience is both adventurous and educational with the main emphasis being on academic training and practical experience. *Extra Mural Study (EMS) requirements are met, so the 16-day module counts towards fulfilling these criteria.
Practical elements of the module may include game capture, translocation of game, the reintroduction of species into these reserves, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases, animal husbandry at the Born Free Rescue and Education Centre, predator monitoring, and much more.
Elements of the theory may include topics such as the history of conservation in Southern Africa, Wildlife habitats, environment & ecology, Wildlife management, Immobilisation anesthetics, Diseases and vectors, Conservation medicine, Anatomy and capture techniques. The program also provides the students the opportunity to explore Southern Africa’s culture and to enjoy its magnificent hospitality.
Country & Area: South Africa, Eastern Cape Area Nearest Airport: Port Elizabeth Airport (PLZ) Transfer Time: ± 60 minutes Duration: 16 Days Minimum Age: 18
The objective of the Vets Go Wild courses on the program is to conduct theoretical and practical training focusing on the role of veterinary science in the context of African wildlife conservation & utilisation. This means your animal care training will combine the disciplines of Veterinary Science, Wildlife Management, and Conservation Field Training.
Whether you’re a first-year student or nearing the end of your studies, this course will provide you with practical experience as you are immersed in real-life situations culminating in wildlife procedures/operations where Dr William Fowlds expects you to make the best necessary decisions in each situation.
There are several factors that set our Vets Go Wild courses apart, making this course the best option for veterinary students seeking an EMS placement:
A wildlife vet is with the group for all veterinary activities as the primary facilitator, and they are an absolute inspiration.
The course is longer… 16 Days. This is due to a more thorough introduction to the wildlife species of South Africa that you could potentially work on. Understanding the species and their behavioral traits is naturally critically important during game capture operations. Dr. Fowlds is a co-founder of Amakhala Game Reserve and lives on the reserve. Because of this, there is more flexibility and he allows a greater degree of responsibility and decision-making to be transferred onto the students… providing our students with a more realistic learning environment that will stand them in better stead going forward. (You couldn’t get more hands-on, basically).
The course includes a marine animal care component.
Our students visit the Addo Elephant National Park as part of their placement It is also good to note that the option to apply for a practical volunteer placement with Dr. Fowlds is open exclusively to Vets Go Wild participants (This gives Dr. Fowlds peace of mind as to the specific training quality and understanding of the prospective students). As Dr. Fowlds likes to say to his students, “Your 16 days could be the start of a relationship with my team if working with wildlife is your career priority.”
Vets Go Wild is situated on the Amakhala Game Reserve which consists of 6500 hectares (15,600 acres) of wildlife reserve in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Vet Students will enjoy this scenically beautiful area of green, wide-open plains, lined with acacia-savannah. It is home to a wide variety of animals including elephants and giraffes, which you may get to treat as part of your animal care training.
Amakhala Game Reserve, located in the malaria-free Eastern Cape, will be your home for the duration of your stay. Students will be accommodated on the Game Reserve in one of the Lodges. Amakhala will leave you in awe of life’s abundance, beauty, and spectacular scenery. Sunlit grassy savannah plains, a mosaic of Valley Bush veldt plants inclining Aloe from which Amakhala derives its Xhosa name, the gently dappled light of the sand forest, many watering holes, and the wide spellbinding Bushman’s River. This is home to a great many African mammals, birds, and insects. It will humble and fascinate all the participants.
2024: • 13 June – 28 June 2024 - Sold Out • 29 June – 14 July 2024 - Sold Out • 26 July – 10 August 2024 • 12 Aug – 27 August 2024
Vets Go, Wild Students, are accommodated at the Leeuwenbosch & Shearer’s Lodges situated in one of the protected areas that make up Amakhala Game Reserve. The camps are traditional lodges, which boast comfortable rooms, en-suite shower facilities, a private swimming pool, and separate dining and bar areas. The lodges consist of separate units set into the surrounding vegetation: Social area – lounge & bar, balcony looking over the protected area, outdoor barbeque facilities, and fireside area. Accommodation units sleeping up to six with en-suite bath or shower, toilet, and basin. Dining and kitchen unit. Swimming pool area. Office and lecture facility for the Vets Go Wild animal care training, which backs onto one of the accommodation units.
Three basic meals per day are provided for you. Most meals will be enjoyed at the lodge but packed meals will accompany you when activities take you away from the lodge around meal times. Vegetarian and other dietary requirements are catered for but must be specifically requested before arrival so that supplies can be arranged. Please make sure the Worldwide team is made aware of any such requirements. The meals will be prepared by the lodge chef. A typical menu includes Breakfast, assorted cereals, yogurt, fruit salad, and toast. Lunch: Soup, open sandwich/burgers/rolls, salads & bread, or a packed lunch if out of camp. Dinner: An example of a main course is barbeque lasagne or casserole served with jacket potatoes, mixed vegetables, salad, and dessert. Soft drinks and bottled mineral water are available to purchase through an honesty bar system. Alcoholic beverages are available at the bar during social hours only. Drinking water via a water fountain will be available free of charge throughout the day.
On arrival at Johannesburg O.R Tambo Airport or Cape Town International Airport (these are your first points of entry into South Africa) you will have to clear immigration and collect your baggage, once you have cleared customs formalities proceed to the domestic terminal for your onward domestic flight, the domestic terminal is clearly marked and within walking distance. We recommend a minimum of 90 minutes of connecting time from your international flight. On arrival at Port Elizabeth Airport, having collected your baggage please proceed to the information desk in arrivals, A Vet Go Wild Representative will be awaiting your arrival and they will then transfer you to Amakhala Game Reserve – your new home over the coming 16 days.
An internet link is available at the lodge for the purposes of e-mailing only (WIFI is available at the hotspot). The use of this service is free and time slots can be arranged during the course. Connections speeds are currently GPRS governed. The lodge and surrounding area have good mobile network coverage.(Vodacom, MTN & Cell-C).
This is a 12-day intensive program and therefore you do not have any days off, however, the reserve is near many attractions that can be visited after the program.
Accommodation 24-hour support Merchandise Wifi Meals Laundry Transfers from Port Elizabeth Airport to Amakhala Game Reserve All fieldwork, lectures, and visits to surrounding areas
*Please note: Participation in Africa veterinary wildlife call-outs is to take place at random times during the course and no activities can be guaranteed.
Day 1 Arrivals and transfers to Amakhala Game Reserve Orientation of Camp & its facilities Africa Vet Course Overview Guided game drive Opening dinner
Day 2 – Amakhala Morning game walk Lectures: Basic wildlife conservation principles for Africa Vets Introduction to practical conservation management Re-introductions and sustainable utilisation Afternoon game drive
Day 3 – Amakhala Sunrise solitaire Lectures: Relationships between animals & habitat management An overview of the Africa Vet role in conservation Equipment & drugs relevant to veterinary wildlife Practical darting and darting practise Evening into a night drive
Day 4 – Amakhala & Surrounding Reserves Bush breakfast Practical demonstration from an African vet of capture techniques used in antelope Overview of reserve management structures and principles in other conservation areas
Day 5 – Amakhala & Surrounding Reserves Visit the Born Free centre Talk about the role of the foundation in the rescue and care of African wildlife Tour around the Vets Go Wild centre and facilities Discussion on health & welfare issues associated with captive conditions. Game Drive focused on predator management in the wild
Day 6 – Amakhala & Surrounding Reserves Game drive on Amakhala Focus on specific species & management issues Mega herbivore and predator issues in management
Day 7 – Amakhala Game drive & practical darting procedure Lectures: Africa veterinary pharmacology and case study examples Basic capture techniques and Immobilisation practical Technology in Conservation Practical diurnal telemetry tracking on Amakhala
Day 8 – Addo National Elephant Park Transfer to Addo and overview of park management and policies Different approaches of national parks compared to private game reserves. Visit to animal holding bomas and discussion
Day 9 – Amakhala Lectures: Diseases relevant to African wildlife and the role of parasites & disease in nature. The monitoring and control of disease Vaccination procedures for Africa vets or disease testing practical
Day 10 – Amakhala Lectures: Protected area systems & economics Alternative ways to utilize wildlife. Biodiversity issues and extinction processes. Night drive: telemetry on nocturnal species Day 11 – Marine & coastal management Transfer to Port Elizabeth Visit to Port Elizabeth Oceanarium Marine excursion into Algoa Bay and Addo Marine Reserve.
Day 12 – Surrounding reserves A comparative look at different conservation models and ecosystems. Exercise in adaptive management plans for predators. Practical excursion involving procedures on challenging wildlife species
Day 13 – Amakhala Relocation and holding of animals Stress factors in handling and containment Drugs and facilities Africa vets use to reduce stress Pathology of stress-related mortalities
Day 14 – Amakhala & surrounds Socio-economic issues to consider in the conservation of African ecosystems.
Day 15 – Amakhala Summary and key issue analysis Game drive on AGR for field discussion Appropriate capture techniques Drug combinations and dosages Helicopter exercise Sundowners on Amakhala and Vets Go Wild Course farewell dinner.
Day 16 – Breakfast Departures & transfers to Port Elizabeth
For those who want to travel with their own group rather than joining a mixed course, we do accept exclusive groups from universities or specific regions.
*Subject to a minimum of 12 participants in a group.
Comprehensive Information Pack
Frequently Asked Questions
Before You Go
If you have decided that you would like to take the next step and book a Worldwide Experience, it couldn’t be easier. Simply complete the online application form on this website and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
The Worldwide Team South Africa is with you every step of the way. From providing detailed information on your selected placement, right through to offering help and advice on sponsorships and fundraising. We also supply contact details of all your fellow volunteers so you can get in touch before your Worldwide Experience begins.
In the past, we have had several students raise funds for their Worldwide Experience. Because a large portion of the funds you generate goes back into conservation it allows to you capitalize on this opportunity. Fundraising projects past students have carried out include sponsored runs and swims, letters to companies and charities as well as general work. Feel free to discuss the opportunities with our consultants at any time. There is a lot of money to be earned out there!
If you have a British passport (or almost any EU passport) you will not have to pay for an entry visa to South Africa (except for French passport holders). You are entitled to 3 months in South Africa, however, should you wish to stay longer your visa can be extended and your placement coordinator will assist in taking you to the Department of Home Affairs. The Department will charge you a minimal fee for this extension.
Certain parts of Southern Africa fall within malaria areas. We are fortunate that most of our conservation placements fall in malaria-free areas. Please contact us for up-to-date advice on Malaria and your chosen placement. Apart from malaria, there are no other diseases one needs to worry about. Yellow fever is certainly not a problem in South Africa. Tap water can be drunk in South Africa; however, it is advisable to consult with the coordinator at your selected placement before doing so. For further information relating to health issues please visit: http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/index.htm
All of our placements provide three basic but wholesome meals per day. Meals will include Westernised dishes such as beef, chicken, pasta, and lamb with vegetables as well as regular BBQs or braai’s as they are commonly known in our country. Breakfasts will include cereals, eggs, bacon and sausages etc. Those of you curious enough may even have the chance to tuck into impala kebabs or even ostrich biltong and steaks. Vegetarians are catered for and our chefs will be advised according to your dietary requirements.
We have a representative at each destination who will meet you from your ﬂight and transfer you to your placement. For all our African placements, we are able to organise your international ﬂights from the UK. It is also possible to extend your stay to accommodate any independent travel plans you may have. You will be collected from the airport in a microbus (7 seater) and transferred to your assigned conservation placement. There you will be transported around in either open pickups (open trucks/bakkies) or in open 4×4 Land Rovers. Certain placements offer horse riding as a mode of transport when patrolling and monitoring the bush/veld.
At each of our placements, you are provided with safe, although sometimes basic, accommodation – all of which are purpose-built for our volunteers. At the majority of our placements, cleaning and laundry service is provided, to help make your experience a more comfortable one. Please contact us for further information on speciﬁc accommodation details for individual placements. Camping under a starlit sky is one of the main attractions of traveling to South Africa. This is something you will experience on the odd occasion. However, accommodation is in houses either based on the reserve or in nearby villages. All accommodation is headed up by the student coordinator and a game ranger.
There are 11 ofﬁcial languages spoken in Southern Africa. However, English is preferred as a common language because it is seen as neutral and prevents the favoring of any one particular dialect. It is advisable to have a basic understanding of the English language should you come from a foreign-speaking country.
In the past South Africa has had a history of violence and political instability. Today crime still exists, but only in certain parts of the country, parts we completely avoid. Levels of crime in our country are however no higher than many other countries around the world. As for political stability, today South Africa experiences and practices a very healthy democracy. If you are alert to potential problems you are already halfway to avoiding them. Your safety and security is of paramount importance to our team.
All of our placements have been carefully selected to meet our exacting criteria. In your country of choice, we have dedicated coordinators for each placement, who are there to guide you through everything and to help with any issues that may occur. There is also a 24-hour contact number for friends and family calling from the UK.
Worldwide Experience requests a significant ﬁnancial contribution towards all requested placements. All funds generated contribute to the smooth running of the program, a certain portion is contributed to the Born Free Foundation and the Wilderness Trust and the funds also contribute to the ongoing projects related to our conservation efforts. Many organizations tend to step in to assist with a project and then simply disappear. This is not the case with Worldwide Experience. We realize that conservation needs man’s ongoing support, which can only be achieved through the generation of this contribution and via the support of the self-funding volunteer. To discuss any aspect of voluntary work contributions and/or our policies on the projects we support please do not hesitate to contact one of our directors.
There is so much to do in this vast country, and one should aim to spend more time in this wonderful part of the world. Should you wish to extend your placement you are also welcome to do so. Alternatively, we can assist with placing you in an alternative reserve linked to our organization. Many students tend to make their own plans once in the country and upon completion at the reserve of their choice, travel to explore the rest of the country. One means of getting around is via the famous and very safe Baz Bus. All student coordinators will advise you of this.