Wildlife Veterinary Medicine and Rehabilitation is a specialised field, and this volunteer project gives you the chance to experience both hands on. Assist a top wildlife veterinary medicine doctor and a highly experienced wildlife rehabilitation expert in their daily duties treating rescued indigenous wildlife in South Africa. This is the perfect project for veterinary medicine students and professionals wanting to specialise with wildlife and needing experience and can also be used for practical credits for your studies.

Starting daysStarting days are Monday to Friday all year around
Minimum Requirements2 weeks to 12 weeks. A minimum age of 18 years old. Those studying veterinary medicine or qualified in the field, will be given preference. Please book early for this project as space is very limited and it is very popular
Cost£1150 for 2 weeks and £480 for each additional week
What is included3 meals a day, accommodation at a beautiful guesthouse, meeting you at OR Tambo International airport, airport collection and drop-off, donations to your project, pre-departure support, in-country staff, 24- emergency help and more
What is not includedFlights, visas, travel insurance, spending money
Best forVeterinary students, qualified veterinary doctors and nurses, conservation students, zoology students, biology students, career breakers, post-retirement gappers, animal lovers, nature lovers, volunteers who like to get hands-on

Project Description

Assist a team of an experienced full-time wildlife rehabilitation specialist and a wildlife veterinary doctor at this fantastic wildlife veterinary hospital treating indigenous small to medium sized South African wildlife. All the wildlife treated and rehabilitated, are wild without owners and once healthy and mature enough, will be released back into a safe natural environment to be free as nature intended.

Some of the species treated include owls, bats, raptors, mongooses, pangolins, serval, genets, bushbabies, hedgehogs, garden birds, water birds, reptiles (tortoises, snakes and monitor lizards), honey badgers and otters — to name but a few.

Often injured and compromised wildlife are taken to the nearest veterinary practice for treatment. Frequently, the veterinarian on duty does not have the expertise, the time, or the resources to treat a particular species and as a result these animals often get inadequate care (medical, dietary and husbandry). Even 24-hour veterinary facilities are not equipped to handle wildlife longterm, as this- in particular rehabilitation- is not their specialty.

So a veterinary facility that only treats indigenous wildlife on a full-time basis was established. The rehabilitation aspect of the hospital is run and overseen by a wildlife rehabilitation specialist, aided by permitted, trained team members. Regularly veterinary students and nurses are trained as well as experienced veterinarians in the approach to the treatment and rehabilitation of indigenous wildlife by the onsite qualified wildlife veterinary medicine doctor. For those studying veterinary medicine, this project can be used as an internship as the wildlife veterinary medicine doctor is qualified to sign off on practical credit documentation.

Volunteers allow the project to grow as a facility by taking on more patients and a greater workload. The project is busiest in the summer months, December, January and February, and baby season which is Spring, September, October and November, but requires assistance all year round.

While the project is a veterinary hospital first-and-foremost, a large portion of the work done consists of wildlife rehabilitation, cleaning and food preparation – husbandry. As wildlife is treated for free and funds are limited to employ local staff, volunteers are relied on to help with this work.

Volunteers assist with 6 days on and 1 day off a week.

The hours during the week are 08h00 to 16h00 and weekends are 09h00 to 16h00.

Volunteers WILL be required to assist with cleaning inside cages and outside enclosures. This involves removing old food and faeces and replacing contaminated blankets and straw.
Volunteers WILL be required to assist with food preparation. This involves chopping vegetables for tortoises and other herbivores, sorting insects for our insectivores, and chopping day-old chicks, rats, mice and other ‘wild’ meat for our carnivores and omnivores.

Depending on the work load, volunteers MAY:

  • assist with animal enrichments for those in undergoing rehabilitation
  • have the opportunity to handle, hold, or assist with the treatment of some of the patients.
  • have the opportunity to witness surgeries, examinations, x-rays and medical treatments, depending on the patients currently in care. Those studying or qualified in veterinary medicine, will be able to assist the veterinary doctor in procedures.
  • have the opportunity to witness or assist with gavaging (tube-feeding) birds that are too young or too sick to feed themselves.

Volunteers need to be enthusiastic, hard-working, and eager to learn. Over the busiest seasons of summer and baby season, volunteers are required to work extra hard, often without breaks. If you have any physical limitations, please let us know beforehand, so that we can adjust the jobs assigned to you accordingly.

Dates available for 2024

March: 1 space: 1st to the 30th 

June: 1 space: 1st to the 30th 

July: 1 space: 15th to the 31st

October: 2 spaces: 1st to the 31st

November: 2 spaces 1st to the 30th 

December: 2 spaces 1st to the 31st 

Daily schedule

07:00- have a fresh start, shower and enjoy a good breakfast.

08:10- start the brisk 2-minute walk to the veterinary facility with other volunteers

08:15- arrive and wait for the the staff to open the gate. The hospital opens at 08:00 in the week and 09:00 on weekends and volunteers need to arrive 15 minutes after opening time.

12:00 to 12:30- have a quick break and enjoy your packed lunch

16:00- its closing time and time to walk back to the guesthouse with other volunteers. In summer when very busy, you may be asked to assist a little later. Summers are hot so a perfect time to also take a dip in the pool before dinner

18:00- time for a great hearty dinner and relaxing time with other volunteers.

Accommodation

The volunteer accommodation is a wonderful family run guesthouse, a 2-minute walk from the centre itself on a secluded street in an access controlled quiet suburb on the outskirts of Johannesburg. The property is large with a leafy natural setting and incredible bird life. It has full 24/7 monitored security, armed response and the owners and their dogs live on the property with you, other guests and volunteers. Rooms have shared bedrooms and bathrooms with one other- or can be upgraded to a single for a small surcharge. Shared bedrooms for couples and friends can be organised. There is a kitchen for your meals and a pool to cool off in those hot sunny days. There are braai facilities. Rooms have tea and coffee stations. There is a lounge to watch satellite TV in the evenings. It is up to the volunteers to keep their living spaces tidy. Linen is provided. Laundry services are available for a surcharge. There is free WIFI. Volunteers walk the short stretch with other volunteers to the project base in the mornings and evenings.

Food

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are provided and are traditional South African style… which of course means large portions. Breakfast is a choice of cereals, toasts and spreads and a hot cooked breakfast. Lunch is a packed meal and dinners are a hearty cooked meal in the dining area. Vegetarian meals can be catered for too.

Location

You will need to fly into OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg for your collection during daytime only where you will be met by your driver with your name on a board at the Arrivals entrance to take you to your volunteer accommodation. Although Johannesburg is not the capital of South Africa, it is the largest business hub with a very large buzzing population. It is easy to organise an Uber to take you to local shopping malls on your days off or alternatively we can assist you with a private tour to local wildlife reserves, like the Pilanesburg Wildlife reserve, on your day off to view the Big 5.  There are plenty of interesting attractions for those wanting to learn more about South Africa’s history and many cultures like tours to the Apartheid Museum, the Cradle of Mankind, Gold Reef City or Vilakazi Street in Soweto, the home of three noble peace prize-winners. It is also very easy to travel from Johannesburg after your project to Cape Town, Durban, Kruger National Park or other parts of South Africa

……or even catch a short flight to Victoria Falls to catch this must-see natural wonder of the world.

For more information or to book, please use the contact form or email us at info@volunteerinternationaladventures.com