Wildlife Immobilisation & Conservation Course for Veterinary Students

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. 

Description

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!

Itinerary

Tour Itinerary

Day 1 :

Arrive at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.

On arrival at O.R. Tambo International Airport, after collecting luggage and clearing customs, check in at Domestic Departures (Terminal B) for your flight to Hoedspruit Airport. 

(International and domestic flights are for your own arrangement, but please note that Brothers Safaris can assist with quotes and booking of these if required.)

On arrival you will be met by a representative of Brothers Safaris and transferred to your first destination – a Safari Lodge near the Kruger National Park. Transfer time approximately 45 minutes. 

On arrival you will meet your Brothers Safaris guide who will accompany you throughout the course. After a brief welcome and orientation, check in to your lodge accommodation, and spend some time relaxing and acclimatising to your new surroundings.

Your wildlife guide will give you a short course introduction/overview to wildlife of Southern Africa and Kruger National Park, 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 or uneven numbers, and in this case students will be placed accordingly.    

The lodge comprises 3 recently renovated adjacent white-washed thatch houses with airy covered patio / stoep areas overlooking lush buffalo grass lawns dotted with acacias, fever trees, a massive fig tree and a sparkling pool to defy the hot bushveld summers.

Beyond the lawns and fenced out is the private reserve, home to buffalo, zebra, nyala, kudu and other plains game…with the occasional leopard, wild dog and lion evident in the vicinity. Complementing the bushveld feel are the purpose designed manor houses.

Along with these manor houses, Kuwa Safari Lodge has an open and airy central lodge designed for entertaining in the bush. This open plan kitchen/entertainment area leads onto the enclosed patio, just up from the boma area. The lodge is shaded by a huge fig tree, making it ideal for you to share a relaxed bushveld dining experience.

The whitewashed brick walls of the rooms,  under the double volume thatch, allow for airy and light open spaces conducive to maintaining the cool in the summer and retain the heat in the winter. Generous white mosquito nets hark to a bygone era and the simplistic décor in blacks and whites complement the high-quality linen and towels in the en-suite bathrooms of every unit. Rounding off the rooms are more covered patios, well placed to spot any wildlife at home beyond the lush lawns while sipping on a refreshing sundowner.

Your stay for the next 8 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 :

This morning will be an early start as you depart for Kruger National Park where you will enjoy a full day excursion, including a boma (wildlife holding facility) visit and talk.

Kruger is home to the “Big Five” of wildlife, and a wide variety of other animals and birds, which roam freely in their natural habitat. Species include 336 tree types, 49 fish species, 34 amphibian species, 114 reptile species, 507 different bird types and 147 mammal species. Here over 2 million hectares of unrivalled diversity of life forms fuse with historical and archaeological sites – this is real Africa…

Established in 1898 to protect the wildlife of the South African Lowveld, Kruger National Park is unrivalled in the diversity of its life forms and a world leader in advanced environmental management techniques and policies.

The area that the park covers today was part of the last wild frontier in the eastern half of Transvaal before the Second Anglo-Boer WarPaul Kruger, President of the Republic of South Africa at the time, proclaimed the area, which was inhabited by the Tsonga people, a sanctuary for the protection of its wildlife. James Stevenson Hamilton noted many kraals along the Sabi River and also further north beyond the Letaba River although the north was sparsely populated compared to the south. Many of the local natives were employed by railway companies for construction of rail connections, notably that between Pretoria and Lorenço Marques during the end of the 19th century. Abel Chapman, one of the hunters who noted that the area was over-hunted by the end of the 19th century, brought this fact to wider attention.

In 1996 the Makuleke tribe submitted a land claim for 19,842 hectares (198.42 km2), namely the Pafuri or Makuleke region in the northernmost part of the park. The land was given back to the Makuleke people, however, they chose not to resettle on the land but to engage with the private sector to invest in tourism. This resulted in the building of several game lodges from which they earn royalties.

In the late 1990s, the fences between the Kruger Park and Klaserie Game Reserve, Olifants Game Reserve and Balule Game Reserve were dropped and incorporated into the Greater Kruger Park with 400 000 hectares added to the Reserve.

In 2002, Kruger National Park, Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, and Limpopo National Park in Mozambique were incorporated into a peace park, the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park.

Return to the lodge in the late afternoon.

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

Day 3 :

After early coffee and muffins/rusks, it’s time to head 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).

After brunch, you will start with some introductory lectures. These lectures will be presented by Dr Peter Buss – a wildlife veterinarian currently with Veterinary Services for South African National Parks and based in the Kruger National Park. Dr Buss is an ex zoo vet and ex faculty of Veterinary Science Pharmacology Department staff member. He has a natural talent for translating his vast practical experience into an easy to understand lecture that is interesting and informative.

  • “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.

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

Day 4 :

Breakfast will be served and is followed by lecture sessions at the lodge throughout the day. 

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. 

Day 5 :

Enjoy an early morning breakfast, 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 lunch. 

After lunch there will be a lecture on various dart gun systems and darts, and then a practical session where delegates will be able to spend time loading darts with water and firing them at a target.

This evening you set out on your first field veterinary excursion. This evening’s work is likely to involve predator immobilisation, 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. It is essential that students follow lecturer/course leader instructions during these potentially dangerous sessions!

Back at the lodge you will review the capture operation, before some leisure time and a late dinner.  Depending plans, dinner may be early evening before setting out.

Enjoy a good night’s sleep if you can,  after an exciting experience and in anticipation of what tomorrow holds…

Day 6 :

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 on a reserve in the area and will be with one of the larger more charismatic African species, such as rhino…. The work you participate in forms part of ongoing reserve management and is thus dictated by their needs. Your participation contributes to the costs of the procedure and hence wildlife management.

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 before enjoying a lecture on Wildlife Diseases. Depending on the vet work and location, the schedule may be amended to allow for more time in the field.

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

Day 7 :

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.

After lunch you’ll review the morning’s practical session. This is followed by a lecture on conservation by your course veterinarian, and an informative talk on poaching and conservation issues by your FGASA wildlife guide.

Depending the vet work and location, the schedule may be amended to allow for more time in the field.

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

Day 8 : 

As dawn breaks over the African bush, a gentle tap on your door will wake you to the delights of a new day. After morning tea/ coffee and rusks, it’s time to head out on your morning game drive, looking for the many species of wildlife that abound in the reserve.

Not only can one expect to see different species at different times of the day, but they may also be busy with different activities/behaviour…… so each drive is a chance to discover something new!

Enjoy a coffee break while out on drive, and head back to the lodge mid-morning to enjoy a delicious breakfast. 

This afternoon, head out to Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre.

You will work with the curators in a hands-on experience, by preparing the food and feeding the animals, as well as assisting with any veterinary services that they may be doing the day, it must be mentioned that it is not a guarantee that there will be any veterinary procedures scheduled for the day as this will all depend on how the animals behave. That being said they do have a vaccination scheduled for that time, but this is also not a given and can only be confirmed closer to the date, as anything can happen.

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

Tonight your wildlife guide will give an informative talk on stargazing. 

Day 9 : 

Wake up early and enjoy a delicious breakfast before checking out. You will be met by a representative of Brothers Safaris for your day’s excursion. 

After breakfast set out on your day trip to enjoy the sights of the world-renowned Panorama Route….

This is a land of dramatic contrasts characterised by majestic mountains, primaeval indigenous forests, latter-day plantations and ancient mountain fortresses.

The Panorama Route is one of the most beautiful and popular travel destinations in South Africa, and leads through the rugged mountain range of the northern Drakensberg Mountains. You will set out early in the morning as visibility from certain view spots along this route can become clouded in towards the latter part of the day. The Panorama Route passes the north-eastern part of the Great Escarpment, the inland plateau declines abruptly and steeply and opens up fantastic views of the plains of the Lowveld a thousand metres below.

The most spectacular stretch of the Panorama Route is the Blyde River Canyon. From many well-positioned vantage points one has a view of the 33 km long gorge, which starts at “Bourkes Luck Potholes” and ends at the “Three Rondavels”. 

The Potholes are very impressive rock formations that were shaped millions of years ago by erosion. The bizarre swirl holes developed when the once rapid river carried masses of sand and debris.

There are also countless waterfalls to visit en route, the more spectacular of which are situated close to the town of Sabie. Along the way you will pass through the small town of Graskop, which was originally a gold mining settlement and is now a major forestry centre. Here you can stop and enjoy a break and one of the legendary pancakes served at Harrie’s Pancakes (lunch for your own expense.)

“The Big Swing” is situated in scenic Graskop, Mpumalanga, South Africa, nearby the small town of Sabie.

The maximum weight on a tandem is 200kg but the Swing can handle this weight ten fold. There are 4 dynamic ropes each consisting of a 25 ton breaking strain and they stretch 23% of the jump.

442 stairs ascending through the gorge and into the trees will take you back up to the top. Enjoy the stunning and unusual plants and bird life, as well as a few old car wrecks.

To complement the Swing, THE EDGE BAR, the multi-tiered deck on the opposite side of the gorge allows you to sit back and enjoy a drink while watching the jumpers!

The Graskop Gorge Lift is the latest and most innovative tourism development in South Africa and the only one of it’s kind in the Southern Hemisphere…. Your journey begins as you drop off the grassy cliff top in a custom-designed 26-passenger viewing elevator. It travels 51m down the cliff face into the cool mountain forest below. An extensive network of elevated walkways, suspension bridges and interactive exhibits lead you along the 500m forest trails and across the streams. The site’s towering cliffs have been cut back over time by the Motitsi River, with the Panorama Gorge waterfall which plummets 70m into the gorge below.

The ride down with the elevator only takes a few minutes, but you can spend hours exploring the indigenous forest below. And one ticket is good for multiple daily rides down into the forest.

No tour of the Panorama Route would be complete without a visit to Pilgrims Rest, an historical old mining town set in the foothills of the Drakensberg Mountains where a gold rush took place during 1873. In due course the alluvial deposits were depleted and the locals turned to forestry, but their village, whose residents still number in the hundreds, has been painstakingly preserved as a “living museum” and major South African tourist venue.

At the end of an exciting day, you will make your way back to your hotel near Sabie for some relaxation time.

Check in on arrival and get settled. You will spend two nights at Misty Mountain. 

Your stay is at the hotel is on a bed and breakfast basis. All extras are for your own account. 

Day 10 : 

Breakfast will be served at 07h00 and is followed by lecture sessions on crocodile and fish medicine, starting at 08h00. 

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

Enjoy the rest of the day and evening at leisure or indulge in one of the exciting activities on offer (at an additional cost):

  • Canopy tours
  • Art and crafts
  • 4X4 trails
  • Big swing (bungee swing)
  • Horse riding
  • Hot air ballooning
  • Kloofing
  • Abseiling
  • River rafting
  • Wildlife safaris
  • Golf
  • Scenic flights
  • Hiking trails
  • Historical tours
  • Cultural Experiences

Day 11 :

After your early breakfast, you will collect your luggage and check out before departing.

Today you will be transferred to Mattanu Game Reserve, to the north-west of the diamond digging city of Kimberley (approximately a 9 hour 30-minute drive).

Enjoy a packed lunch along the way.

After a brief welcome and orientation, check in to your accommodation. 

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 or uneven numbers, 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 6 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 12 :

After early coffee and rusks/muffins, 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.

There will be a lecture on game ranch management – roan, sable, buffalo – by Dr Johann Kriek.

After lunch there will be a lecture on helicopter use and safety in wildlife work. This will give you an excellent idea of what is required when darting from the air, the do’s and do not’s.

Dinner is served before enjoying another good night’s rest.

Day 13 :

Early morning breakfast at 07h00 is followed by a practical 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.

However, please note that work is part of the reserve’s ongoing management needs and those of their clients, and species cannot be guaranteed. No immobilisation is ever the same and so even working with the same species on more than one occasion will offer valuable learning experiences.

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

Enjoy a presentation on WRSA and the role of game farming in conservation after lunch before heading out at around 16h00 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 at 19h00.

Day 14 :

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.

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

After lunch we’ll have 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.

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

Day 15 :

After another early breakfast, you head back out onto the reserve 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.

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 a presentation on hunting and its role in conservation after lunch/in the afternoon, before heading out at around 16h00 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 19h00.  

Day 16 :

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 :

Enjoy breakfast, after which you check out and depart to Kimberley airport for your flight – to Johannesburg International Airport in time for connecting flights home/to your next destination – flights for own arrangement.

(International and domestic flights are for your own arrangement, but please note that Brothers Safaris can assist with quotes and booking of these if required.)

*** END OF SERVICES ***

Photos

Included

Your safari 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
  • The services of a Brothers Safaris guide throughout
  • Veterinary excursions and activities
  • Tourism levies and Government VAT

Excluded

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 (budget on approximately R800 for the course)

Questions?

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

FAQ's

Our approach to travel is defined by our motto “Constantly in Pursuit of Excellence”, as we strive to provide top quality tour or safari options. We’d love to hear from you, so please contact us with your questions, comments or suggestions through our Support System and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Please also review our FAQ’s to save you time in case your question has already been answered.

Booking