Wildlife Immobilisation & Conservation Course for Veterinary Students 2017

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This course is aimed at Veterinary students/young Veterinarians and offers the opportunity for course delegates to be exposed to wildlife veterinary practice in South Africa.  During the course delegates will gain technical knowledge and skills involved in the immobilisation and conservation of wildlife.

 There are multiple theory and practical sessions during the course to ensure maximum learning opportunities. Knowledge and experience gained during this course highlights many of the issues facing wildlife vets and conservation in Southern Africa. However, this knowledge and the broad basics will naturally serve as a sound base for future wildlife work anywhere in the world, including captive facilities.

Students from any veterinary school in the world, and any year of study are welcome to attend. The course is facilitated in English.

 Besides the technical learning aspects, the course also allows for some leisure activities and wildlife viewing too, making this a complete African experience!

 Day 1 – Thursday
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Arrival day – all delegates must arrive at Port Elizabeth airport by 13h00.  At 13h30 you will be met by a representative of Brothers Safaris at the “Information Desk” of the airport (to the right of the sliding doors as you exit the baggage collection area in the terminal) and be transferred to the game reserve that will be home for the next 9 days – just north east of Port Elizabeth (approximately 1 hour drive).

(Early arrivals can be accommodated – please contact us, not included in course cost).

We recommend that you draw cash while at the airport (if not already done) for gratuities and eventualities (R2 000-00 is generally enough). Drinks and extras can also be paid by credit card at the lodge. 

After a brief welcome and orientation, check in to your lodge accommodation, and spend some time relaxing and acclimatising to your new surroundings.

At 16h00 head out on a shortened game drive (wildlife viewing) on the reserve. Your drive will be with one of the local guides. All game drives on the reserve will be guided in an open game viewing vehicle giving you a true safari experience while learning about the various species of wildlife you come across.

On your return to the lodge, your wildlife vet for the course will give you a short course introduction/overview at 18h30, before dinner at 19h30.

 Enjoy a good night’s sleep listening to the night sounds…

 Your accommodation is at a lodge on the reserve, where you will be required to share the normal lodge rooms, on a twin share basis (two students to a room). In the odd case it might be necessary to create a triple room to accommodate male/female combinations of students, and in this case students will be placed accordingly.

Listen to the heartbeat and hear the rhythms of Africa at The Lodge in the Game Reserve. The landscape and elements of African tribal design influenced owners and artists, Mike and Justine Weeks in their endeavour to achieve a holistic safari experience.

This intimate thatched lodge with its unique air-conditioned safari huts offers all the comforts of a luxury five star lodge and is an undisturbed retreat where you can regenerate your soul and tune into the sounds of nature.

The Lodge sleeps 22 people in 11 luxury suites, complete with private plunge pools and separate lounge areas. Canvas drop blinds open up the safari huts and the central lounge to views of a small waterhole where monkeys come to play and antelope and zebra to quench their thirst. You can soak away the heat in a luxurious double bath with the sights and sounds of nature or splash off the dust in a double outdoor shower. Large beds are draped with mosquito nets. In the evening the haunting sound of the kudu horn will summon you to the fireside, to share tales of your day’s adventure and to enjoy local cuisine under a magnificent canopy of stars.

This Game Reserve began in 1999 as a joint conservation venture and today has several independently owned lodges. Many of these are owner managed by the descendants of the original families who arrived here with the British settlers of 1820.

The Game Reserve is a unique conservation initiative that has allowed animals to be re-introduced to the area where they once roamed freely and so making a contribution to the conservation of our natural heritage. The land was used to ranch sheep and cattle up to the turn of the century. The challenge has been to re-establish the original flora and fauna species to the area and to return the land to nature. The vegetation and landscape are awe inspiring and the time spent in this reserve of approximately 7000 hectares will teach you a great deal about African wildlife.

The reserve is home to a variety of species, including lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo, cheetah, giraffe, zebra and numerous antelope species.

Your stay for the next 9 nights is on a full board basis (accommodation and daily meals) including tea, coffee and juice with meals. All other drinks and extras are for your own account.

Day 2 – Friday
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After a sleep in and breakfast at 08h00, we will start with some introductory lectures at 09h00. These lectures will be presented by your course veterinarian:

  • “Welcome to the wildlife of Southern Africa – the beginning”
  • “So what do wildlife vets do in South Africa?”
  • “How to catch an aardvark or a zebra – the big picture”
  • “Safety and general principles for working in the field” – field safety, first aid and helicopter safety

All lectures will take place at the lodge in an informal setting.

Break for lunch at 13h30.

Enjoy some leisure time after lunch before heading out at around 15h00 for a game drive (wildlife viewing) on the reserve with one of the local guides. Each drive is different and offers the opportunity to look for species not yet seen.

In addition, this is an important opportunity to study the behaviour of the different species, which is crucial to know and understand when working as a wildlife vet.

Return to the lodge in the early evening after looking for some of the nocturnal species on the way back.

Enjoy dinner at around 19h00 before enjoying another good night’s rest.

Day 3 – Saturday
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After early coffee and muffins/rusks at 06h45, it’s time to head back out onto the game reserve for an early morning game drive. A different time of the day, a different experience…..

Return to the lodge late morning for some brunch at 10h00 (on days where you have brunch you basically have two big meals with a light snack in between). Enjoy some leisure time at the lodge after brunch.

At 13h00 there will be a lecture on various dart gun systems and darts, and after the lecture delegates will be able to spend time loading darts with water and firing them at a target.

This will be followed by approximately an hour lecture session with Dr Peter Buss at the lodge.

Enjoy some leisure time late afternoon/early evening and dinner at the lodge at around 19h00. Wildlife DVDs will be available for viewing after dinner.

Day 4 – Sunday
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Breakfast will be served at 07h00 and is followed by lecture sessions at the lodge throughout the day, starting at 08h00.

Dr Peter Buss  – a wildlife veterinarian currently with Veterinary Services for South African National Parks and based in the Kruger National Park; ex zoo vet and ex faculty of Veterinary Science Pharmacology Department – will  be your lecturer for the day. Dr Buss has a natural talent for translating his vast practical experience into an easy to understand lecture that is interesting and informative.

 These lectures are crucial to understanding wildlife immobilisation and will focus on the following:

  • The applied physiology and pharmacology of wildlife immobilisation
  • Species specific considerations for immobilisation – drugs and techniques

You will break during the lectures for lunch at 13h00 and tea breaks. 

Enjoy dinner at the lodge at 19h00 – tonight is the night for a traditional braai…. come hungry!

Day 5 – Monday
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Early morning breakfast is at 07h00, followed by any unfinished lectures. Today’s lectures are again presented by Dr Peter Buss and will cover the remainder of the above topics not yet completed.

You end lectures late morning before an early lunch at 12h00.

After lunch you set out on your first field veterinary excursion. This afternoon’s work is likely to involve antelope immobilisation and relocation, and will be carried out on the reserve/a nearby reserve.

Each immobilisation offers course delegates the opportunity to get hands on assisting with patient monitoring, treatments and other necessary procedures.

This is the time to put theory into practice and hone essential skills. Delegates are expected to rotate duties in order to get everyone involved and give everyone an equal opportunity during the course.

Back at the lodge you will review the capture operation, before some leisure time and dinner at 19h00.  After dinner enjoy some DVD’s/social time.

Day 6 – Tuesday
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Enjoy an early morning breakfast before setting out for the day’s veterinary work.

This morning’s work is subject to confirmation nearer the time, but is likely to be based on the reserve again, and likely to involve another antelope species.

Lunch is back at the lodge, or a packed lunch, pending the day’s work.

After lunch you’ll review the morning’s practical session and then have some leisure time to review lectures and activities covered to date.

Head out at around 15h00 for a game drive (time permitting) on the reserve with one of the local guides.

Enjoy leisure time at the lodge before dinner at 19h00.

Day 7 – Wednesday
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Enjoy an early morning breakfast before setting out for the day’s veterinary work.

This morning’s work is subject to confirmation nearer the time.

Lunch is back at the lodge, or a packed lunch, pending the day’s work.

Head out at around 15h00 for a game drive (time permitting) on the reserve with one of the local guides.

This evening, there will be a talk on the marine environment off the South African coast, and as a precursor to tomorrow’s excursions. This is important in order to understand the bigger conservation issues that face wildlife – marine and terrestrial.

Enjoy leisure time at the lodge before dinner at 20h00.

Day 8 – Thursday
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Its early breakfast again today at 06h00, and then at 06h40 you head to Port Elizabeth for a boat cruise on the ocean to apply some of the knowledge gained the previous day – weather permitting.  You will arrive in Port Elizabeth and be briefed by your skipper at 07h45 prior to heading out on our marine cruise, where, if you are lucky you could encounter dolphins, whales, penguins and various sea birds on route….

St. Croix Island is home to 22,000 breeding pairs of African penguins, the largest breeding colony found in Africa. It is here where guests will get a close-up encounter with these comical birds. The African penguin’s breeding season reaches its peak between March and May, when guests may be able to see the chicks from the boat.

As well as African penguins, both St. Croix and Brenton Island (a smaller islet close by) are inhabited by the endangered African black oystercatcher, white-breasted cormorants and Cape cormorants.

The St. Croix Island group, along with the Bird Island group, recently became part of the Addo Elephant National Park, allowing rangers to patrol the islands in aid of conservation efforts to protect the African penguin population.

During this cruise guests also have the possibility of spotting bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins, humpback dolphins, bryde’s whales, minke whales, Southern right whales, humpback whales, Cape fur seals, various species of sharks, Cape gannets and various species of pelagic birds including terns, petrels, skuas, shearwaters and albatrosses.

After the boat cruise you head for the coast north of Port Elizabeth, departing at 12h00 and enjoying a packed lunch en-route. After a drive of approximately one hour you will reach the coast and, depending on group size, be split into two groups on arrival.

You will then be guided by a specialist marine guide on a beach walk, learning more about this fascinating environment along the way!

After approximately 3 hours, you head back to the game reserve.

Dinner is at 19h00.

Day 9 – Friday
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Breakfast is at 06h00 at the lodge before heading at 06h30 to nearby Addo Elephant National Park where you’ll spend the day, starting at around 07h15.

Your visit will include a game drive in the park, a visit to the boma (wildlife holding) facilities in the park, and possibly a talk on the park by one of the SAN Parks staff members/veterinarians – talk subject to confirmation and staff availability. This will give delegates an insight into a different wildlife management system and a different habitat too.

Lunch is at the park restaurant and for your own expense (budget approximately R100-R170, depending on your taste/hunger level!).

There will also be some leisure time to explore the park shop and buy some souvenirs/momentos to take home.

Deep within the shadows of the dense valley bushveld of the Sundays River region of the Eastern Cape lies the Addo Elephant National Park. Here, the evenings are punctuated by the strident howl of the black-backed jackal, and the francolin’s call heralds each new dawn. Safe from relentless persecution in the past, the grey leviathans of the bush now roam in peace. The original Elephant section of the park was proclaimed in 1931, when only eleven elephants remained in the area – today this finely tuned ecosystem is sanctuary to over 450 elephants, Cape buffalo, black rhino, a variety of antelope species, as well as the unique flightless dung beetle, found almost exclusively in Addo. And there Addo has only just begun, with plans to expand the 164 000 ha Addo National Elephant Park into a 360 000 ha mega-park.

In addition, plans include the proposed proclamation of a 120 000 ha (296 500 acre) marine reserve that includes islands that are home to the world’s largest breeding populations of Cape gannets and second largest breeding population of African penguins.

On route back to the lodge you pass through the village of Paterson, where you visit Isipho – a multi-purpose facility which assists victims of the Aids pandemic, mostly children – at around 15h00.

 The facility is led by dedicated staff who will take the group on a tour around the small facility in order for students to learn more about the plight of these children in the context of the HIV pandemic in South Africa.

There will also be an opportunity for students to interact with the children/students socially and have a game of football or netball, this is the part the children love! Any donations to their cause – monetary or other – would be valued. Please discuss this with your school co-ordinators or Brothers Safaris staff in advance of your safari to ensure useful donations of items. Do not give monetary donations directly to staff on site, we facilitate this via the Amakhala Foundation for accountability.

Return to the lodge late afternoon/early evening for some down time to pack, before dinner at 19h00. Enjoy the rest of the evening at leisure.

Day 10 – Saturday
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After your early breakfast, you will collect your luggage and check out.

Today you will be transferred to Mattanu Game Reserve, to the north west of the diamond digging city of Kimberley (approximately an 8 hour drive).

Enjoy a packed lunch along the way.

After a brief welcome and orientation, check in to your accommodation. Time permitting you will head out on a short evening game drive (wildlife viewing) on the reserve. Your drive will be with one of the local guides. All game drives on the reserve will be guided in an open game viewing vehicle.

On your return to the lodge enjoy dinner at around 19h00.

Your accommodation at Mattanu is in one of the various different styles of accommodation on a sharing basis (two students to a room).

In the odd case it might be necessary to create a triple room to accommodate male/female combinations of students, and in this case students will be placed accordingly. During your stay, there will always be staff on the premises should you need any assistance.

This Game Reserve began in 1991 when the owner, Dr JC Kriek, originally from Zimbabwe, imported 95 endangered roan antelope and 65 rare sable antelope species into South-Africa from Malawi.

This is regarded by many as the most successful game capturing and importation operation ever. Dr JC Kriek is regarded by many as the pioneer for the breeding of endangered antelope industry in Southern Africa.

Ever since then more than 300 roan, sable and disease free buffalo have been bred at Mattanu.

Dr JC Kriek also wrote the protocol for the breeding of disease free buffalo and fittingly was the first private game rancher to receive permission for the breeding of these buffalo.

The profit from the Malawi operation was used to purchase Mattanu Private Game Reserve, which was then a cattle farm, in 1990 and since then many millions have been spent in the development of the infrastructure and the re-introduction of numerous species. The reserve is not a “Big Five” reserve but there are over 36 different animal species and approximately 700 animals on Mattanu.

The breeding of endangered and rare antelope species is the main industry at Mattanu, along with game capture and immobilization by Dr JC Kriek, veterinarian and helicopter pilot, and his son Johann Kriek, commercial helicopter pilot.

Nestled in the shade of indigenous Camelthorn trees over 100 meters of tiled pathway leads you from the lodge to the various accommodation units.

Students will occupy five luxury safari tents, each with a private viewing deck overlooking a waterhole, decorated in African design, complete with luxury sleeper wood furnishings, full bathroom en-suite, indoor showers and air-conditioning with under floor heating; the two bedroom thatched roof suite comprising of a loft main bedroom opening onto a private deck, lounge, bar and 2 bathrooms (accentuated with teak wooden finishes, fire place and air conditioning); and the luxury log cabin which can accommodate 4 adults, in two bedrooms, both en-suite with corner bath and shower, and opens up onto a wooden veranda with a view of the waterhole. A rock waterfall featured swimming pool will serve as a welcome relaxation on your return from a hot day in the Kalahari bush.

Your stay for the next 7 nights is on a full board basis (accommodation and daily meals) including tea, coffee and juice with meals. All other drinks and extras are for your own account.

Day 11 – Sunday
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After early coffee and rusks/muffins at 06h45, it’s time to head back out onto the game reserve for an early morning game drive and join staff on feeding rounds of valuable species on the reserve.  Learn about species not yet seen and observe some management practices en route.

At 11h00 there will be a lecture on game ranch management – roan, sable, buffalo – by Dr Johann Kriek.

Enjoy some leisure time after lunch before heading out at around 15h00 for another game drive on the reserve. Remember each drive is different and offers the opportunity to look for species not yet seen.

Return to the lodge in the early evening after sundowners and looking for some of the nocturnal species on the way back.

Dinner is served at around 19h00 before enjoying another good night’s rest

Day 12 – Monday
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Early morning breakfast at 07h00 is followed by another veterinary excursion.

Today’s veterinary work is likely to involve antelope immobilisation and relocation, and will be carried out on the reserve in all likelihood. Nearer the time we will know what species and procedures will be involved, but we endeavour to expose students to as many species and different procedures as possible during the course.

Enjoy lunch back at the lodge at around 12h00, and then review the capture operation.

This is followed by a lecture on wildlife diseases by your course veterinarian.

Enjoy some leisure time before dinner at 19h00.

Day 13 – Tuesday
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Early morning breakfast is at 07h00, followed by another veterinary excursion. Today’s veterinary work is likely to again involve antelope immobilisation, most likely a different species, and will be carried out on the reserve/a nearby reserve.

Return to the lodge for an early lunch at around 12h30.

After lunch we’ll have a lecture to review helicopter use and safety in wildlife work, before a practical helicopter session, on the reserve, darting a target with a paintball gun/similar from the helicopter. This will give you an excellent idea of what is required when darting from the air, and it’s fun!

 Please note that this exercise carries a weight restriction for safety reasons. Anyone weighing more than 100kg should please speak to the responsible Veterinarian in private before this exercise.

Back at the lodge, time permitting and after ridding yourself of some of the adrenalin, there will be a discussion on the day’s veterinary procedures, if not done in the field, and any remaining lectures/topics of interest that have not yet been addressed will be presented/discussed.

Enjoy some down time before dinner at 19h00, followed by an evening of leisure.

Day 14 & 15 – Wednesday & Thursday
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After another early breakfast, you head back out onto the reserve or one of the other nearby reserves to participate in more veterinary procedures.

Today’s work is subject to confirmation nearer the time, but is likely to take up most of the day. If not local, we will take a packed lunch with us.

On one of these days there will be a lecture on Wildlife Conservation issues, after the veterinary procedures.

If we are back in time, enjoy a game drive and sundowners on Mattanu (time permitting depending on the day’s veterinary work).

Day 16 – Friday
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Early morning breakfast before setting out for the last day’s veterinary work – subject to confirmation. This is the last practical session for the course and by now delegates should be confident in dealing with such cases.

Lunch is back at the lodge, or a packed lunch, pending the day’s work.

This afternoon there will be a written exam on the course material as a means of self-evaluation – the exam is typically out of 100 marks and written over a maximum of 1.5 hours, and covers both theory and practical aspects covered on the course.

While all activities on the course are obviously optional, course delegates are encouraged to participate in all of them, including the exam.

Enjoy a game drive and sundowners in the bush for the last time before returning to the lodge for dinner and to overnight.

Day 17 – Saturday
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After breakfast you check out at 10h00 and transfer to Kimberley airport for your flight to Johannesburg International Airport/onward travel in time for connecting flights home/to your next destination. Please do not book any flight, or make onward travel arrangements which departs from Kimberley earlier than 12h30.

*** END OF SERVICES ***

Please note that Brothers Safaris arranges ‘regular’ travel throughout Africa and would be delighted to assist you plan any travel before or after the above safari, thus ensuring a diverse experience without undue overlap and offering you the convenience of dealing with one reputable company.

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Departure dates:

  1. 01 – 17 June 2017
  2. 22 June – 08 July 2017
  3. 20 July – 05 August 2017

Costing:       

 ZAR 46 750-00 per person sharing

This cost is based on a minimum of 10 delegates and a maximum of 16 delegates participating.

Your course cost includes:

  • Transfers
  • All accommodation and meals as stipulated in the itinerary
  • All activities and entrance fees as stipulated in the itinerary
  • The services of an African Vet Safaris Wildlife Vet and the services of local guides and staff, as indicated
  • Veterinary excursions and activities
  • Tourism levies and Government VAT

Not included:

  • International and Domestic air fares
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Drinks (unless otherwise specified)
  • Additional excursions/activities not included in this itinerary
  • Medical/travel insurance (compulsory)
  • Meals indicated as not included
  • Gratuities

 Due to the nature of this experience, times and plans may need to be adjusted slightly as we proceed. Please bear with us should this become necessary.

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Please Note:

1. Brothers Safaris does not guarantee that any one particular veterinarian, guide, ranger, lecturer will participate in a particular course, despite any reference to specific names in this itinerary.  However it does guarantee that any personnel employed for any of the above is suitably qualified and appropriately experienced to handle the veterinary work / guiding / lecturing in question.

2. Due to the nature of wildlife and the situations in which we work, as well as the working conditions for people involved with wildlife, and weather conditions, it is often necessary to amend the itinerary and plans as we go along. There is also never a 100% guarantee of what work will be successfully completed, although we obviously select work and situations that have a very likely chance of being completed/successful. We try to cover working with as wide a range of species as is practically and ethically possible, but there are no guarantees in this regard. Ultimately course delegates will be expected to be flexible and understanding, and will also have to share duties during immobilisation and hands-on work throughout the course, in order to give everyone maximum exposure and practical experience since there will obviously not always be multiple animals at each immobilisation. Your understanding in this regard is much appreciated.  All participants are requested to ensure that they have a timepiece with a suitable second hand to aid in monitoring procedures, such as respiration counts.

3. While we do have an enormous amount of fun, this is a course intended to educate you in many of the veterinary aspects related to wildlife and you should be aware that many of the days are long, and work filled. Safety of course delegates and patients is an obvious priority and delegates will be expected to co-operate with, and adhere to, instructions issued in this regard. We reserve the right to refuse access to situations if it is deemed that a delegate is not satisfactorily adhering to such instructions.

4. Meals are provided as indicated and dietary requirements such as vegetarians and allergies will be catered for, as far as is possible under these circumstances. We unfortunately cannot accommodate each delegate’s preferences for food, so please check your requirements in advance with us.

5Laundry facilities will be available at the lodge, for your own expense.

6. Course delegates will be expected to sign an indemnity on arrival, as well as an adherence to lodge/course rules form. These are available for viewing prior to booking, on request/if required. The lodge/course rules are to ensure everyone’s safety and enjoyment during the course. Delegates are expected to be courteous and tolerant to staff and fellow course delegates.

Please note the following regarding the darting/other procedure/s: While every endeavour is made to locate and dart the animal in question, factors such as severe weather conditions or illness involving the animal, which are unpredictable, may prevent the darting from going ahead.

Every effort will be made to ensure that the client participates in the darting procedure, or similar, as laid out in the itinerary, but the animal’s welfare will not be compromised at any stage, and a procedure may have to be aborted and the animal revived in certain circumstances. This may shorten the procedure/down time and hence the close up experience for the client. Brothers Safaris, its staff, and appointed agents will not be held liable for any losses incurred by a client as a result of such situations, and accept no responsibility whatsoever. Every endeavour is made to ensure the health and safety of all our clients, but any procedure with a potentially dangerous wild animal is of such a nature that certain circumstances may be beyond our control. Should any such situation arise which leads to death or injury due to any reason whatsoever, Brothers Safaris, its staff, and appointed agents, will not be held liable for any losses incurred as a direct, or indirect, result of such a situation, or our actions in such a situation.