- Gain practical and theoretical veterinary experience
- Immerse yourself in nature as you study
- Shadow professional vets and other wildlife experts while you learn
- Intern at a Big 5 game reserve in South Africa!
- Spend your free time sightseeing in South Africa
Gain knowledge, immerse yourself in nature. This internship will ensure that you get the most out of your time in South Africa by giving you the opportunity to shadow professional vets and other wildlife experts at a Big 5 Game Reserve! You’ll be interning at a fascinating 6,000 acre reserve, assisting with the running of the park, treating and monitoring local wildlife, and gaining intriguing technical knowledge. As long as you’re interested in animal care and would love the opportunity to get to know South Africa, this is the opportunity for you!
This is a fantastic opportunity for anyone hoping to become a vet and would like to get a bit of experience whilst in the early stages of studies! No prior experience or formal qualifications are required – so what are you waiting for? Grab the chance to meet South Africa’s wondrous wildlife population and gain access to first-hand, comprehensive veterinary knowledge!
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Download more trip information and detailed itinerary
The Reserve and Your Role
You’ll be interning on a 6,000 acre Big 5 game reserve, located on Sidbury Plains just an hour away from Port Elizabeth. The reserve is home to over 250 species of birds, rhino, cheetahs, buffalo, lions and leopards! You will typically be working from Monday to Friday, working 6 – 8 hours per day. There is occasional work to be carried out during weekends, but they are usually free, so you’ll be able to travel and sightsee! You will spend around 2 sessions per week shadowing a vet, and other time will be spent with wildlife experts involved in wildlife and conservation initiatives.
You’ll spend your time shadowing vets in the private game reserve – so you’ll be immersed in wildlife as you’re learning about veterinary practice! You’ll come to understand how the vets run the reserve, getting a direct look at their roles and duties, and getting an immersive experience of the changes the reserve undergoes and what is involved in the day to day care of the wildlife. This is a real chance to gain a practical approach to animal care – and where better to study wildlife than the diverse and beautiful South Africa?
In addition to your comprehensive learning experience, you’ll be responsible for carrying out some duties. We’ve listed some typical activities below, and please note that each day is different on the reserve, so the kind of duties you’re involved with will be dependent on current priorities and other dynamic factors.
- Monitoring behavioural characteristics of wildlife
- Checking the general health of wildlife
- Administering antibiotics to animals
- Assisting with autopsies to determine the cause of death
- Treating wildlife for parasites and wounds
- Administering vitamin supplements to wildlife
It is important to note that while the day to day care and treatment of wildlife is essential to the role of a vet, a pivotal aspect of the role is taking care of the environments and habitats that surround the wildlife. You must be prepared to get stuck into secondary vet activities as some treatments are carried out in the environment, rather than through direct contact with an animal. Secondary activities on the programme include vital conservation work on the reserve, assisting with the removal of alien vegetation, maintenence and repair on wildlife structures and fence patrols on the reserve.
You’ll receive lectures throughout your internship which will cover technical aspects of veterinary science. These lectures will ensure you get a theoretical overview of practices and will prepare you for more technical duties. This internship is very comprehensive, so grab the opportunity to get involved with both technical and practical activities!
Weekends will be free for you to travel and have some fun! You’re just an hour away from vibrant Port Elizabeth, and your friendly co-ordinator will be on hand to help you arrange excursions and weekend activities. A few days before the excursion, the co-ordinators will decide on a final destination, taking into consideration factors such as weather and local attractions. Port Elizabeth will generally be the main destination for weekend excursions.
Port Elizabeth showcases a range of exciting activities that you can participate in during your free time. Local game parks will allow you to enhance your interest in the local wildlife, or you may opt to go on a safari! A local Nature Reserve makes for the perfect picturesque location to enjoy a hike, and the new Baywest Mall is a great spot for shopping and souvenir hunts! You may also want to travel further afield and explore other regions of South Africa, providing you have enough time.
Eligibility and Application Process
This programme is open to all nationalities. While you are not required to have formal qualifications to apply, you must be at least 18 years of age.
Once your placement has been secured we will set up your online account, where you’ll be able to view the details of the internship and access specific information relating to your time in South Africa! You’ll also have access to country and visa information and details on insurance and any necessary vaccinations. Once you have the login details for your account you’ll be able to book flights, and our fantastic flights team will be on hand to provide a quote.
Please note that all activities, inclusions and itineraries are subject to change.
- Arrival airport transfer on programme start date
- Orientation upon arrival
- Daily voluntary activities
- Veterinary activities
- Meals while on the reserve
- T-shirt and cap
- Travel Insurance
- Meals on excursions
- Optional Activities
- Return airport transfer
During your time at the reserve you will be staying in a volunteer lodge on a shared, single sex basis. Bathroom facilities will be shared. The lodge is fully furnished, and features a hot beverage station, a lounge area complete with satellite television, and an entertainment room which offers a pool table, table tennis, table football, and sports facilities such as a cricket field and tennis courts. You’ll find the lodge the perfect place to unwind after your exciting days on the reserve!
There’ll be storage space and lockers available at your accommodation – please note that use of the lockers will incur a small fee. While you are on the reserve, breakfast, lunch and dinner will be provided, and you can expect meals of beans, curry, rice, vegetable or pasta dishes. Vegetarians can be catered for upon request – just alert us to any dietary requirements during your application process. During excursions and free time, meals and activities will not be provided. Please note that the game reserve is a strictly alcohol free environment.
Food in South Africa is delicious! You will be exposed to every different type of meat at every meal, ranging from impala and kudu to ostrich. All can be enjoyed in many different ways, but one of the best ways to taste these meats would be to sample it off a hot braai (barbecue). Be prepared to try something new! It you want to try some more traditional food then go for some Biltong (dried meat) and Boerewors (barbecue sausage).
If you are a vegetarian, do not worry. South Africa is abundant with delicious local vegetables, such as yams and sweet potatoes.
Drinking water from the tap is safe throughout the country, apart from in the more rural areas.
For a small fee, you’ll be able to use the laundry facilities at your placement. You may also want to pack some biodegradable soap or travel wash.
There is internet access available at the project for volunteers that you’ll be able to use at designated times for a fee. It can be unreliable at times, which is something that is not within the team’s control, so your patience is appreciated.
Your flight to South Africa should arrive at Port Elizabeth Airport before 5pm on the start date of your programme, and you should schedule a return flight from the same airport on the programme end date.
Important: Please ensure that you arrive and depart on the times and dates stated. If you arriveoutside of the set dates and still require a transfer, you will be required to pay for an out of hours transfers which is bookable and payable prior to departure - please note that out of hours transfers are on a request basis subject to availability and not automatically added to your booking. Any additional night of accommodation required at the project will cost approximately GBP 40 per person per night and payable locally.
To book your flights, please contact our fantastic flights team on 01892 277040 who will do their best to get you the best deal on the day. Please provide them with your full name as it is stated in your passport. Before you make the call please make sure you have your required departure dates, return dates and other details you may require.
Minimum age 18 years.
UK nationals don’t require a visa to enter South Africa for stays of up to 3 months. You should ensure that your passport will still be in date for six months after your return. All visa information is subject to change and you should consult the nearest High Commission or Embassy for the most up to date information.
Do I Need To Take A Sleeping Bag?
No, all bedding is provided, however if you want to take one for extra warmth then you can.
Do I Need To Take A Mosquito Net?
No, you will be in a malaria free area.
Will There Be A Safe/safety Deposit Box Available?
You will have lockable chests as well as boxes in your room where you can lock your valuable items.
Is South Africa Safe?
Absolutely, and you have coordinators with you at all times to ensure your safety.
Due to Covid-19, many of our partners and suppliers across the globe are putting in place new procedures and policies regarding health and safety in response to the outbreak. These new measures will adapt and change as the state of travel evolves, and the policies and procedures will vary depending on each trip. Some changes that you may experience on our trips are:
Updated safety & hygiene procedures
Health and safety measures will be adapted by our partners and suppliers, dependent on local laws and restrictions.
Different transport & accommodation
You may find yourself on transport or in accommodation that would not typically be used, such as hostels that are more secluded, or on more private transport. This may vary by trip, or even by individual departure dates.
Most trips include a meeting on arrival with the guide or local team to discuss the trip, and this is an opportunity for you to ask any questions. You should arrive in time to attend these briefings.
Emergency support 24/7
We have a UK based 24/7 emergency phone line if you have a genuine urgent matter that you need attending.
Knowledgeable & Trained Staff
We can help answer any questions or concerns you may have before you depart. Whilst travelling the guide or local team on our trips are there to help, and to ensure the smooth running of our trips.
Should you require medical assistance whilst travelling, the local team or guide will be able to help you get to a point of care. Medical facilities and standards can vary across the glove, so you should ensure you have adequate travel insurance in place.
Varying group sizes
To begin with, many trips will run with amended group sizes, so you may find smaller groups than would be typical. This may vary by trip, or even by individual departure dates.
Whilst there may be changes on our trips, it is vital that you make travelling safer for yourself, your travel companions, the local staff and guides, and the people of the country you are visiting. You should follow all local laws and restrictions, and follow the guidance of the local team. In addition, you can help make travel safer by bringing and using your own face coverings/masks and hand sanitiser, social distance where appropriate, wash your hands frequently, and cover your face when coughing or sneezing.