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Wildlife Veterinary Medicine Internship in South Africa



Your work will offer a variety of opportunities, including some veterinary experience, participation in some game captures (which are hugely exciting!), and some community work. You'll experience and witness some extraordinary sights, but also learn a great deal about African wildlife.

You may also get involved in other conservation-related fields, including wildlife monitoring. The amount of time you will have in the different areas will vary depending on the length of time you're there and what type of work is taking place or required at that time.

List of ALL PROJECTS in South Africa INTERNSHIPS in South Africa List of ALL PROJECTS in South Africa 

Start Dates All year round - you choose your start and finish dates. Arrival and departure days are on Fridays only
Duration From 2 weeks to 12 weeks or longer, subject to visa requirements
Requirements No qualifications required, but if you are studying a related subject, or you are qualified, your work involvement will be much more in-depth. Minimum age 18 
Price Full Price List
What's included Arranging your program,
Full pre-departure support and assistance,
Payment Protection insurance

Meeting you at Polokwane airport
Transfer to your accommodation
Transport to and from your project
Local in-country team support and backup
24-hr emergency support.
Return transfer to Polokwane airport
Certificate of Completion
What's not included Flights, Insurance, Cost of Visas (if a visa is required)
Who can do this Project? This project is open to all nationalities and all ages over 18.
Suitable for gap years or those taking a year out, grown-up gappers, career breakers, anyone interested in gaining overseas work experience or an internship for university credit or requirement.
Also suitable for anyone just wanting to study abroad and learn about the practice of Conservation and Conservation strategies on a Game Reserve overseas.
Please see "Requirements" above.


  • An exciting, never-to-be-forgotten adventure into Africa and the many diverse cultures in South Africa

  • The unique and very rare opportunity to gain practical, hands-on veterinary medicine experience with wild animals in a Game Reserve setting.

  • New skills, more confidence, a greater understanding of a different culture, invaluable personal and professional development.

  • An entry on your CV or résumé that will put you head and shoulders above most others in the job market.

  • And best of all ... an unforgettable experience!

Veterinary Internship with wildlife on a game reserve in South Africa


Work on this project will give you experience across many areas, including some veterinary experience, participation in some game captures and some community work. You may also get involved in other conservation-related fields, including wildlife monitoring. The amount of time you will have in the different areas will vary depending on the length of time you are there and what type of work is taking place or is required at that time. ere are some examples of what you may be able to participate in:

The Project works with a number of veterinarians, all of whom are very well established. This part of the programme will give you a taste of assisting a wildlife vet and conservation experts in their day-to-day activities. You'll accompany the vet and help them on their wide range of different duties.

  • You might assist a vet with the diagnosis and treatment of various injuries, conditions and diseases of animals, monitoring the animal's health and providing support to the vet. However, this will depend on the wildlife vet you join and what is happening at the time you are there.
  • Veterinary procedures can range from operations in the field with wildlife, to working on livestock or within specific wildlife breeding facilities and, due to the isolated environment, you may also be involved in assisting domesticated animals in certain cases. This could entail treating domesticated animals either belonging to the reserves, farms or people living in the local communities. These domesticated animals are often at risk to the dangers associated in the rural South African environment, such as attacks by wild species including snake bites.
  • Farming is a major part of the South African economy and, depending on the vet you are placed with, you may also find yourself assisting with management, vaccinations and diseases controls. Some of the vets are working with pioneering technology like ultrasounds and other procedures and, therefore, this is a unique learning opportunity.
  • Many vets work alongside the game capture, providing the essential experience required when darting animals because of the specialised drugs used. Normally you’ll assist with the immobilisation and ensuring that the animals being treated are comfortable. You also assist in monitoring their condition before the animal is transported.
  • Other opportunities can include going out on emergency call-outs to assist in many different situations. The call-outs do happen often, but obviously cannot be guaranteed as they are unplanned events and can be very exciting.

This is a particularly exciting element on this programme! Game captures are a regular occurrence between March to October. You'll work with a dedicated local team that specialises in capturing and relocating wildlife. This activity is vital for wildlife conservation and management.

As wilderness areas shrink and the need for land increases, space for wildlife is decreasing rapidly. Management of ranches and reserves is essential to maintain a healthy balance and ensure the continued survival of all species. Through game capture large numbers of animals can be moved safely from one area to another.

Captures are done for a number of reasons and an essential part of managing the continued existence of wildlife in the region. Some of the objectives include:
1. Restocking animals into new areas;
2. Retaining the population and diversity of the local wildlife through careful handling of general and endangered wildlife
3. Game capturing also has huge economic and employment benefits to the local community.

Game captures will give you a unique opportunity to the reality of conservation in the region as well as the long term objectives they are working towards to ensure a positive impact to both wildlife and local communities. You'll be able to get much closer to the animals than would normally be possible, as well as being able to observe their behaviour and movements.

Although game captures occur regularly during the dry winter period, they can be subject to the weather, especially the wind and to the animals themselves, so patience and flexibility is essential.

Game capture and relocation services are an important part of land management. If left unchecked, the numbers of certain species will grow too large and become damaging to the land. They can destroy local eco-systems, which can take decades to recover.

Reserve owners and managers rely on game capture and relocation as a tool to manage these animal numbers to maintain balance. Game capture teams are highly experienced in this field and can safely move large numbers of animals from one area to another as needed. This not only helps to keep numbers in check in one area, but also helps to repopulate areas where game numbers are too low or on new reserves. Certain species of animals can be housed in a facility for short periods of time before being moved to new areas.

Once it is decided to move certain animals from one area to another, the team will start constructing large canvas capture ‘bomas’. A boma is a structure made of canvas curtains which is usually 3 meters high suspended on cables and can be as long as 300m long and 200m wide depending on area and species being captured. They are triangular in most cases and designed like a funnel, with the entrance or mouth of the boma being very wide and well camouflaged. It then narrows to a ramp at the rear of the boma which leads into the capture trucks. The team is able to construct one of these bomas in half a day and then begin capture that same day!

The animals are located in the bush using a helicopter and then herded towards the boma. Once the animals are near the boma the helicopter moves closer and to encourage the animals into boma.

A series of curtains which run across the boma are hung and hidden from the animals as they enter the boma. Game capture staff and volunteers hide inside the curtains until the animal run past them and then they close the curtains behind the animals by sprinting to pull the curtains closed. This ensures that the animals keep moving towards the trucks and cannot turn back. Everything is well controlled and the animals are usually safely in the trucks within a minute or 2 of entering the boma.

As the animals enter the boma, the helicopter will sound a siren indicating to the ground staff hiding behind the first curtain to close their curtain. Then, as the animals then move past the second curtain, the helicopter again sounds a siren to close the second curtain. This is repeated until the animals are past all of the curtains and into the specially designed trucks waiting for them. This part of the experience can be very exciting and it gets the adrenalin flowing!

Volunteers have an exciting experience working with the game capture team. You'll be part of the crew pulling curtains in the bomas as the capture commences, depending on which species is being captured. Some species are more difficult to capture and can be more dangerous (like buffalo) and volunteers will not be allowed to be on foot inside boma for these types of animals. Instead, you will assist on top of truck to separate, sort and tranquilize the animals as they enter the trucks.

This is a hands on experience which is both exciting and very interesting and you will travel to different ranches and reserves to conduct the captures.

The capture team is experienced in catching most species of game which includes: giraffe, buffalo, eland, kudu, roan, sable, waterbuck, gemsbuck, wildebeest, zebra, ostrich, impala, Nyala, hartebeest, tsesebe, blesbuck, springbuck and many others too.

Some species need to be darted from the air for capture purposes. Once the animals are sedated they are blindfolded and carried on stretchers to trucks etc. You may also get the opportunity to fly in the helicopter while searching for game or while moving between different reserves.

The Project works closely with the local community to help preserve and protect the local environment and endangered wildlife from major problems in the region, such as illegal hunting. Each week you will be helping on a local community project for a few hours. Work might include helping at the local school or community centre where many past volunteers have run special workshops and classes about the local environment and wildlife.

Other projects have also included building a football pitch and community centre, both of which have helped create employment as well as social sports and recreational activities. All the community activities have developed stronger relations with the community and have had been of massive benefit to both the people and the wildlife.

There will also be occasions when you may be involved in wildlife monitoring and surveillance with a team member. This could include:

  • tracking and locating a particular species
  • mapping the sightings
  • collecting data
  • setting up camera traps or
  • assisting with ongoing game counts.

These are all essential activities needed to ensure the efficient and smooth management of a game reserve. This part of the programme will give you the opportunity to observe the animals in their natural habitat.

Wildlife Veterinary Medicine Internship in South Africa

Wildlife Veterinary Medicine Internship in South Africa

Wildlife Veterinary Medicine Internship in South Africa

You'll live on the Game Reserve in one of their lodges. The lodges are comfortable and have electricity and running water.

On some occasions you might even stay in one of the tents. Each tent has a wooden deck with an en-suite, open-air bathroom. There is no electricity at the camp, but it is lit by firelight and paraffin lamps in the evening, which amplifies the night atmosphere of being in the African bush.

Evening entertainment is usually based around board games, playing cards and socialising around the camp fire. The camp has a rustic charm which encourages an atmosphere of laid back relaxation....the way Africa was meant to be experienced!

Wi-Fi / Internet: There is no Wi-Fi available on site.

There will be times when you'll travel away from the Reserve and accommodation will vary on those occasions.

While on the Reserve, all food is provided and volunteers prepare their own meals according to a set menu with ingredients and instructions. Sometimes breakfast is prepared at different locations in the bush.

If you are based away from the Game Reserve (i.e. when you are accompanying the Vets around to other reserves), your accommodation will be provided but food will be to your own account and expense.

The easiest way is for you to book your international flight through any airline of your choice, arriving in Johannesburg (O.R. Tambo International Airport), and then book a connecting domestic flight from Johannesburg to Polokwane (our closest airport).

You should arrive in Polokwane on a Friday, before 15.00 hrs, and your flight should also depart on a Friday, after 10.00 a.m.

Volunteers who find it difficult to get flights that fit this arrival schedule often arrive in Polokwane the night before (Thursday) instead. We can recommend a Bed & Breakfast accommodation that will collect you from the airport when you arrive, and then we arrange for our transport service to collect you from the accommodation on the Friday morning.

Wildlife Veterinary Medicine Internship in South Africa



Got any questions? Please email us: info@travelersworldwide.org


Once you have applied for a placement, we'll contact you and send you our Welcome Pack. You'll also receive Log-on details and password for our Volunteer Extranet where you'll have access to all the documentation and information which we've put together to facilitate preparations for your adventure! Your Project Co-ordinator for your country will liaise with you throughout the arrangements process, as well as while you're on your placement and on your return home.

The documents you'll have access to also include a Country Factfile, Safety Guide and any manuals that may assist you on your particular program (e.g. Teaching Guide, Sports Manuals, Enrichment Suggestions for Animal Care, etc.). We do all we can to make your stay one that you'll never forget. This is a truly awesome, elegant and beautiful country.

As with all our destinations, the culture and heritage is different to what you're used to ... which, although one of the most exciting aspects of travelling, should be borne in mind.    Self-reliance and independence are highly appreciated in all our destinations and will help you to make the most of this wonderful opportunity! 

On Arrival, your Introduction to the Country: When you arrive you will be welcomed by a member of the Project stafff who will take you to your accommodation and introduce you to everyone.

During your first few days you'll be given an induction so that you can learn about the country and its culture.


Feedback on Law Internships in South Africa

Wildlife Veterinary Medicine Internship in South Africa

Photo Galleries
Knysna Diary
Wildlife Rehabilitation Diary
Wildlife Expedition News!


You can also book some Optional Add-Ons to do before or after your placement, tomake the most of your Travel Experience in SOuth Africa. The most popular choices are the safari trips from Cape Town and many volunteers use these as their means of travel to arrive at their project in Knysna, but it is a very varied, beautiful adventure up the Garden Route..

Wildlife Safaris & Adventure Tour Combos
4-Day Surf Safari and Wildlife Adventure
1-Day Adventure Activities in Cape Town
1-Week Wildlife Rehabilitation

1-Week Whales Sharks Dolphins
Cage Dive with Sharks

This project can also be combined with any of our other projects in South Africa, or you could even do a second project in a different region of the country, thus doubling your adventure and enjoyment!

Cage diving with sharks in Cape Town
Cage diving with sharks in Cape Town


The best advice you'll get from us is to try to see some of the country while you're in South Africa. It's big (huge!) and each different region is exciting and very, very beautiful. Cape Town is probably the most beautiful city in the world (I can say that, I grew up there :-)  KwaZulu-Natal comes a very close second, albeit very different. Knysna is where South Africans go on vacation, which gives you some idea of how lovely the region is.

Northern South Africa has some of the most famous Game Reserves, including Kruger National Park, and vibrant cities like Johannesburg. With its gold mines and history, it's very different to the rest of the country.

Adrenaline Activities -
Enjoy exciting and “real” adventures with an adrenaline twist!

  • Abseiling

  • Sandboarding

  • Deep-sea Angling

  • ‘Kloofing’ (insanely jumping off very high cliffs into pools of water!)

  • Paragliding

  • Helicopter flips

  • Bungee jumping (just up the coast)

  •  …..and a LOT, LOT more!!!!

      Township Tours - A visit to one of the many townships surrounding the city is an experience that will open your eyes to the way in which the biggest portion of Cape Town's population are living. Take a township tour of Langa, the oldest township in South Africa or Khayelitsha, the second largest township in South Africa. Township tours will usually be co-led by a resident in the area, showcase local industry and community projects and include a visit to a township bar or 'shebeen'.

      Cape Winelands - Wine lover or not, a visit to the Cape Winelands is an absolute must as the region is one of breathtaking beauty and majestic mountain backdrops. Rolling vineyards and quaint Cape Dutch homesteads ... as well as some of the country's best wines.

Cape Town has lots of cafes and restaurants with outdoors seating areas overlooking the street or on the pavements, with colourful sun umbrellas - a perfect place to sit with the sun on your face, watching passers-by ambling along, sipping a steamy cappucino or staving off the heat with a cold drink.

To read about Travel arrangements and what happens when you arrive in your new country, please click here.

Support & Backup: To read about the excellent Support & Backup we provide before you leave and during your program, please click here.

Wildlife Veterinary Medicine Internship in South Africa

Our Veterinary Placement is located in the heart of Buenos Aires and is perfect for a passionate animal lover looking to to gain experience working with all types of animals. You'll work in one of the largest vet clinics and pet shops in Buenos Aires, located downtown, a few blocks away from 9 de Julio Avenue. 
South Africa is modern and energetic, the perfect place to gain experience in your chosen career. We'll place you in a delightful small veterinary practice in Cape Town, under the supervision of an excellent vet who will endeavour to give you as much knowledge and experience as possible. The practice is situated in the capital city of Cape Town - with it's world-famous Table Mountain and miles of glorious beach, this is a good city in which to live and work.