South Africa

Destination South Africa
Suitability Animal lovers and adventurers
Dates 7th-28th June 2009 (2 spaces left)
9th-30th June 2009
5th-26th July 2009 (full)
19th July - 9th Aug 2009
26th July - 16th Aug 2009 (full)
Number of places 8 places available on each trip
Cost (per person) US$4015

Vets-in-the-Wild Expeditions 2009 Set Departures:

Join us for the experience of a lifetime, a field study programme in South Africa for students in veterinary fields and wildlife conservation.

About EcoLife International Universities Programmes

EcoLife Expeditions is an extension programme of the Centre for Wildlife Management, and has been conducting short-term field study programmes for international students since 1999. Two study programs are currently presented, the Vets-in-the-Wild program and the Wildlife Management program.

Aimed at students of veterinary science and wildlife management, these study programs offer an exciting, hands-on, in-depth and educational experience, taking students behind-the-scenes in the wildlife field in Southern Africa. The expeditions are in the form of a camping safari and lodging, and the duration is around 3 weeks. Students interact with rangers, veterinarians and researchers working in the field, giving them an insight into life, successes and problems associated with conservation in Africa today. Participants also meet and learn from pioneers in game capture and those actively involved in the field of wildlife veterinary science on a day-to-day basis. The program includes a Capture and Care course where students participate in actual game capture operations.

This revised program is open to veterinary and pre-veterinary students, currently enrolled at a recognized tertiary educational institution, as well as to qualified professionals and also to interested persons. Qualifying students enroll for the NLB 311 Ecosystems and Wildlife Management and NLB 312 Participatory Nature Conservation courses at the Centre for Wildlife Management, University of Pretoria and receive 8 credits on its successful completion.

Course Content

The Course includes:


Day 1: Arrival
Students arrive and are welcomed at OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg, by EcoLife Staff Members. You are transferred to your guesthouse, close to the University of Pretoria, and relax before the evening welcoming dinner.
Accommodation: Guesthouse

Day 2: Orientation, Pretoria and Cheetah and Wild Dog Breeding Center
Our expedition starts by attending a morning workshop at the Center for Wildlife Management of the University of Pretoria. We meet with staff members who have been involved in the pioneering of wildlife management in Southern Africa, and learn about the latest developments in wilderness management. After lunch we visit a cheetah and wild dog breeding centre. This facility has gained international recognition for, through its unique captive breeding programs, bringing back from the brink of extinction both the cheetah and the wild dog.
Accommodation: Guest house

Days 3 & 4: Community Veterinary Services
After breakfast we drive towards Soweto, the sprawling black city adjacent to Johannesburg where we join CLAW, (Community Led Animal Welfare), a world renowned group of dedicated animal lovers and veterinarians who volunteer their professional time and services to Black African townships to assist in the care of these people’s domestic animals.
Accommodation: Guest house

Days 5 -8: Vet School and Wilderness Training
We visit the famous School of Veterinary Science of the University of Pretoria for an introduction to its renowned facilities. Then we turn east to a private camp in the Bushveld on the banks of the Loskop Reservoir. The wilderness reserve surrounding this lake is a pristine area in which to learn practical bush skills, track wildlife on foot and study wildlife behavior, and is perfect for learning how animals and man utilize plants. Weather permitting we will also do some abseiling.
Accommodation: Tented camp

Days 9 - 12: Birds of Prey Centre and Kruger National Park
We depart after an early breakfast en route to the Lowveld and the Kruger National Park. Many birds of prey are becoming endangered due to habitat and prey limitations following modern agricultural practices. We visit the interesting Birds of Prey Centre outside the pretty village of Dullstroom and learn of this important facet of wildlife management. After lunch we travel further east and descend the Escarpment to enter the world famous Kruger Park at the town of Phalaborwa. The biodiversity of this jewel of wilderness areas, almost the size of Belgium, is spectacular. It is the ideal area for observing and studying most of the wildlife species Southern Africa has to offer. We learn about disease control and other management issues in the Park such as poaching. The greatest attraction of this magnificent Park is the opportunity to experience African game viewing at its best and to spot the Big Five. We enjoy a sunset game drive to observe the Park’s inhabitant’s behavior at night, drive along the Park’s pristine rivers and perhaps go on an optional nature walk in the bush with experienced Park rangers to guide us. To add to our experience we will stay in a camp north of the Tropic of Capricorn for two nights. The next two nights we will camp much further south. Park facilities include public telephones, a bank, a shop, restaurants and a laundry.
Accommodation: Camping

Day 13: Blyde Canyon Reserve: Swadini Resort
After a final game drive, exiting the Park, we arrive and establish our base at the beautiful Blydepoort Nature Reserve at the foot of the majestic northern Drakensberg Mountains (Mountains of the Dragon). The pristine Swadini Resort’s facilities include public telephones, a shop, heated and ambient swimming pools, restaurants and a laundry.
Accommodation: Camping (Swadini)

Day 14: Khamai Reptile Centre and Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre
We attend a workshop presented on the handling and care of reptiles, including highly venomous snakes, and we also visit a world renowned wildlife rehabilitation centre. The care of a wide range of wildlife species will be experienced and demonstrated first hand.
Accommodation: Camping (Swadini)

Days 15 - 19: Hands-on Game Capture Course
The successful capture, handling and translocation of wildlife all form important parts of the wildlife veterinarian’s program. The next five days are dedicated to observing and learning about and participating in actual game capture operations under the guidance of a world renowned specialist. Depending on the weather and availability, we will be able to attend and experience both chemical and mass capture of wild animals. Please note that mass capture of game is normally not done during the summer months due to the additional stress to the animals. We will, subject to the weather, also personally experience a mock darting exercise from a helicopter in flight.
Accommodation: Camping

Day 20: Sondela
After an early rise to strike camp we commence our long drive through rural villages and pretty towns to arrive at Sondela to set up camp.
Accommodation: Guest house

Day 21: Hands-on Wildlife Care Course and Graduation
After a leisurely breakfast we attend a formal course on wildlife rehabilitation. After lunch we will have enough time to prepare for our exam. Our farewell dinner, followed by our graduation ceremony, is enjoyed under the stars around our last campfire.
Accommodation: Camping

Day 22: Departure
We depart for Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport, in time for our flights home.

**EcoLife Expeditions reserve the right to change the sequence of events or the programme content if deemed necessary**


The cost of this trip is £2,270 per person sharing. The price includes:

Air travel to and from South Africa, visa costs, optional activities and alcoholic beverages are not included in the cost.


We recommend that you book travel insurance prior to your trip with VetAdventure. Please specify that you will be working with animals as this may be a limiting factor with certain insurance companies. VetAdventure frequently use Go Walkabout Insurance ( Volunteers will need to contact the company directly to clarify that veterinary work will be involved in the trip.


Please check with your local doctor or travel clinic for details of which vaccinations are required for travel in this area . More information can be found at, just click on the "Country Guide". You may need to allow several weeks before travel in order for immunisations to be effective so don't leave this to the last minute. We do recommend rabies vaccination and anti-malarial medication for the duration of the trip.

How to Apply

To apply please contact the office via e-mail at and we will send you an application form.