Itinerary (September & April-June)
The Zambia Wildlife Veterinary Externship will consist of several aspects. On the one hand, you will help with all the daily tasks and activities that take place on a wildlife reserve. These tasks mainly consist of wildlife conservation and anti-poaching activities - you will be involved in monitoring the animals (including the endangered white rhino), learning to track wildlife, feeding rhinos, etc.
Additionally, you will be part of the WCS team (Wildlife Conservation Services), consisting of wildlife veterinarians, conservationists, helicopter pilot, boma trapping team, truck drivers, etc. WCS is responsible for all medical veterinary care, preventive veterinary operations (vaccinating, deworming, etc) and translocation of wildlife. During these translocation operations, you will be introduced to the different types of game capture techniques: boma capture, darting, net gun, etc. There will also be several lectures by the veterinarian to give you the necessary theoretical knowledge about the different "wildlife" capture methods and all the darting principles will be explained. The translocation and darting operations will take place at the reserve, among others, but there is also a chance that you will go to other locations in Zambia (and neighbouring countries) to work with the entire WCS team. During these on-site operations, you will camp with the entire WCS team and stay in tents in the bush.
It is impossible to say exactly what a typical day looks like, as no two days are the same here in Zambia, especially in the life a wildife vet! On days when game capture and darting operations are scheduled, they will be long days in the field starting early in the morning (around 6 am). On days when no operations are scheduled, your days at the reserve will be filled with veterinary lectures by the veterinarian, helping monitor and feed the rhinos, going on (walking) safaris and learning to track along with the rangers, learning about conservation aspects, etc. If veterinary emergencies occur, you will go out with the WCS veterinarian. Distances here in Africa are long, so if we are going to work with wildlife in other locations we will spend hours and hours (sometimes even days) in the car. Working in remote areas goes hand in hand with the "hurry up and wait" principle. That means that there are many moments when nothing happens and you have to enjoy yourself, the next moment is full of action and adventure again. Patience in Africa is essential!
One to three students are admitted per internship period. We keep the experiences small to give each intern an optimal learning experience. Activities together with the veterinarian and WCS are highly dependent on unplanned situations that arise spontaneously, such as a medical emergency. By participating for an extended period of time, you increase the chance of exposure to veterinary experiences and treatments.
In order to join this program, it is an expectation that you are flexible and accommodating. This means being understanding of changes in schedules and activities. We try to plan all veterinary/wildlife activities as best we can to ensure that students can participate in as many activities as possible during their internship. These operations depend on many factors, including Zambian (and sometimes even foreign) authorities, so things often do not go as planned. We also expect the intern to be adventurous and prepared to rough it – if you need luxuries to function, then this may not be the experience for you. After all, you will be exposed to harsh conditions in the bush: (extreme) heat, many types of insects and sometimes very little comfort. But if you can get past that, a true African adventure is guaranteed !
Okavango, Chobe & Vic Falls