Vet Eco Safari Experience (EMS)

If you’re looking for an experience or placement that will contribute towards and enhance your EMS for Veterinary Science, this programme in South Africa is for you. Working alongside wildlife vets, you will study both the practical and theoretical elements of wildlife veterinary medicine and conservation in Africa.

The experience offers you the chance to work alongside award-winning conservation departments and pioneering veterinary staff at a Big Five game reserve. The Vet Eco Safari Experience (EMS) pushes you out of your comfort zone, making you an all-round better vet. Working alongside the staff, you will be faced with unpredictable and unusual practices that our wildlife vets are regularly accustomed to, providing the perfect platform to broaden your experience and build your confidence in your veterinary skills.

Full Course Details


Project Type: Wildlife Veterinary Science, Conservation Project, Extra Mural Studies.

Location: Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Pick Up Point: Port Elizabeth Airport.

Duration: 14 Days.

Price: 2024 Rates: £2,762 per person

Start Dates: Course 1: 27 May – 10 June 2024 | Course 2: 10 June – 24 June 2024 | 24 June – 08 July 2024

Accommodation: Purpose built volunteer accommodation situated on the Game Reserve.

Meals: Three meals per day included, semi participation.

Age Range: 18 Plus.


Based at Shamwari Game Reserve, this vet work experience has been formulated to provide you with a work-based learning experience. Here, both your practical and theoretical abilities will be tested. As well as your veterinary skills, you will also be given the opportunity to develop your conservation knowledge.

The objectives of the course are:

– To expose participants to behind-the-scenes veterinary wildlife practices at Shamwari Game Reserve.
– To provide invaluable experience through exposure to practical and hands-on skills in the wildlife veterinary field.
– Give first-hand insight into conservation, ecology and wildlife management through the eyes of an award-winning department.
– To compare the principles of wildlife veterinary decisions to domestic circumstances and learn about the larger conservation ethics that govern these procedures.
– To introduce participants to pharmacology, with an emphasis on wildlife drugs.
– To provide an understanding of the drugs and techniques required to incorporate veterinary procedures into wildlife management.
– Educate students on disease-producing agents and their effects on wildlife species.
– To teach the techniques and methods of wildlife immobilisation whilst limiting stress factors during interventions.

Some of the veterinary activities you will have the option to perform may include:

Introduction to Darting Techniques
The various darting techniques used for game capture and immobilisation; learning to handle the various darting systems and target practice.

Darting of Rhino
Accompany the conservation team as they dart and immobilise white rhino to perform ear notching for identification purposes and collection of DNA for research.

Immobilisation of large Carnivore
Work with the veterinary team to immobilise one of the large predator species on the reserve; learn respiratory monitoring and use of drugs.

Translocation of Antelope Species
Techniques used for mass capture and translocation of antelope species.

Passive Game Capture
Practical techniques on passive game capture of various species.

Conduct postmortems with veterinary staff for research and assessment.

Be the Vet
Here you will be required to put your skills learnt in immobilisation and game capture to the test as you head out on the reserve to manage the team and act as the wildlife vet to manage the procedure.

Any Emergency Veterinary Procedures
As required by the veterinary team on the reserve.

Conservation activities may include:

Game Monitoring: Rhino, Elephants, Predators
Through regular monitoring it is possible to identify individuals, gather information about the family structure and determine the feeding habits and special ecology of animals. All the data you collect will be used to assist in the managing decisions for the reserve.

Telemetry Tracking
Using telemetry tracking equipment you will monitor high profile animals such as cheetahs and leopards. This tracking is important both because of neighbouring properties carrying livestock and the elusive nature of these animals.

Management of Breeding Centre
This can include anything from assessing conditions on the veld (open country or grassland), mapping breeding areas and alien vegetation to monitoring animal numbers and managing water points.

Volunteering at Born Free Foundation
An opportunity will be given on a weekly basis for individuals to volunteer at the Born Free Big Cat Sanctuary. It is the mission of both the Born Free Foundation and Shamwari Game Reserve to promote the conservation of species and the protection of habitat while maintaining a humane and compassionate approach to the welfare of animals and therefore it is their goal to create an awareness of the horrific way in which wildlife is exploited in captivity around the world.

Volunteering at Animal Rehabilitation Centre
Shamwari Animal Rehabilitation Centre was set up to aid in rehabilitating injured animals found on the reserve and in the surrounding community. The rehabilitation centre provides short-term care for animals before releasing them back into the environment. The centre boasts avian, small and large stock boma (enclosure) areas which house the various species that may find their way to Shamwari.

There will also be opportunities to attend talks and presentations on the following:

– Introduction to Wildlife Conservation in SA.
– Rehabilitation of wildlife.
– Pharmacokinetics.
– Anaesthetics drugs in wildlife.
– Tranquillisers used in wildlife.
– Elephant management.
– Selected wildlife diseases.
– Intensive vs free-roaming wildlife.
– Wildlife monitoring.
– Understanding the principles of Eco Systems.
– Animal population dynamics.
– Capture techniques and relocation of wildlife.
– Use of bomas.
– Stress factors in handling and containment.
– Animal husbandry.
– Veterinarian’s role in conservation.
– Conservation of flagship species of Africa.
– Biome of the Eastern Cape.
– Wildlife tracks and signs.
– Basic wildlife conservation, ecology and management principles.
– Facilities and drugs to reduce stress.
– Darting techniques.
– Animal welfare in relation to capture and containment.
– Hand-rearing of orphaned animals.
– Anti-poaching methods.

We’ve compiled a full 12 day itinerary that covers all of the above areas but it is important to understand that the world of wildlife is unpredictable and circumstances can often change very quickly. Whilst your course is based on a structured itinerary, these activities are subject to the needs and requirements of the Shamwari veterinary team during your time on the reserve. Whatever you do, we guarantee that this experience will be invaluable for your vet training. And if you’re a “pre” vet student looking for some first-hand experience with wildlife, then head on over to our “Pre” Vet Eco Experience project page and take a look.

Where You'll Stay


Whilst conducting your Shamwari Vet Eco Experience you will be accommodated at the purpose built student centre which is situated in close proximity to the main reserve on one of the management properties of the conservation department. General game including zebra and kudu can be found along with buffalo on the property.

The centre boasts twin rooms with ensuite shower and toilet facilities with a communal safe and storage in each room. There is also a number of communal facilities including a lecture theatre, swimming pool, canteen, storage fridge, lounge entertainment area, television and DVD’s, computer and internet access.

Three meals are provided on a daily basis. Meals will either be served at the facility itself or taken as a pre-packed serving, depending on planned or as result of unscheduled activities.

Laundry services are provided once a week.


Shamwari Game Reserve is located in the Eastern Cape of South Africa and is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and interesting regions on planet Earth. The Eastern Cape’s biodiversity is unmatched in Southern-Africa.

For the sun seekers, the Wild Coast and the Sunshine Coast has some of the world’s best beaches. For exquisite beaches try Bushman’s River Mouth or Kenton-on-Sea. The Sunshine Coast is also very well known for its surfing waves.

Jeffreys Bay is an area with some of the country’s wildest coastline, which is backed by some of Africa’s most spectacular sub-tropical rain forest. Famous for its “supertubes”, probably South Africa’s longest and most consistently good wave, this affluent area is charged with a friendly and relaxed surfing vibe. Near Cape St. Francis is Seal Point and it is one of the best places to take surfing photos.

The area is an ideal base to explore the wonders of South Africa because of an array of attractions and you can choose to do this during or after your experience.

Gallery Rates


14 Days – 2024: £2,762


£200 deposit to secure placement at time of booking, final balance due 8 weeks prior to departure.


– Pre departure support and documentation
– Programme fee and contribution
– Accommodation for duration of stay
– Housekeeping costs
– All transportation on project
– 24 hour in country support
– Laundry service once weekly
– 3 meals per day
– Access to tea, coffee and juice
– Study Manual
– Training, theoretical lectures and practical training


– Flights
– Return transfers to/from Port Elizabeth Airport
– Travel Insurance
– Any vaccinations as recommended by your GP
– Internet access
– Soft drinks and snacks
– Any visas required
– Any additional activities outside of project itinerary


If you have any questions, or if you’d like to find out more about this incredible adventure and create some unforgettable memories, just fill in the form below and one of our team will be in touch as soon as possible.

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