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The Vets-in-the-Wild Expedition travels through northern and eastern regions of South Africa, exploring the unique wildlife management and health principles applied towards a sustainable future for both humans and wildlife.


In this program, you will meet with leading wildlife veterinarians and learn from the personal experiences of renowned experts in their respective fields.


Current issues in wildlife conservation

One of the field destinations, the Kruger National Park, will provide insight into two of Africa’s major wildlife challenges -

  • how to control the increasing numbers of the African elephant,

  • and what would be the most effective ways to address the increasing total onslaught on rhinos.


Concerned institutions, individuals and the diverse local tribes form an integral part in conservation to ensure the survival of the species diversity on the African continent. With the African bush as your classroom, you will enjoy a practical and hands-on educational experience.

Disease management

Wildlife Ecology forms the basis of understanding the spread and management of wildlife diseases, the diagnostics and pathology.


During your stay at a veterinary wildlife laboratory you will learn and participate hands-on in analytical, pathological and post-mortem investigations.

Game capture and relocation

The program includes 5-day game-capture program in wilderness areas. Wildlife veterinarians need to make informed decisions when wildlife management requires capture and relocation or care of wild animals.

You will be familiarized with the latest wildlife capture technology and participate in the mock darting of a moving target from a helicopter


It is important to know that in conservation there is no precisely repeatable pattern. Animal behavior is studied, while water utilization and game condition is reviewed. The distance identification of the symptoms of some common wildlife diseases, and the regulations on wildlife movements, form part of the course. Feed selection, parasites, nutrition and the principals of sustainable use of wildlife will also be studied.


Course objectives

Upon completion of the program, students will:

  1. Understand the unique concepts of wildlife management in Southern Africa through application of ecological and economical sustainable principles.

  2. Become knowledgeable of the huge pressures on the natural environment by both humans and wildlife through population dynamics and industry.

  3. Acquire awareness of the reality of modern day issues threatening the survival of species on the African continent and the human emotion which often and readily move emphasis away from scientifically sound principles applied with great success in the past.

  4. Acquire hands-on knowledge of the natural surroundings, animal behavior, signs of the wild and survival skills in Southern Africa.

  5. Understand that there are wildlife diseases that affect domestic animals of rural communities because of the proximity of wildlife.

  6. Understand the effects of diseases in free roaming wildlife and how to monitor these and prevent the spread by using ecological principles and barriers.

  7. Be able to assist in the capture of wildlife by understanding the pharmacological functioning of a variety of capture drugs and tranquilizers.

  8. Know how to handle and care for a variety of wild animals in a captive, quarantine and or rehabilitation facility.

  9. Understand the needs of African rural communities and how they view the value to them of the conservation of wildlife


Academic requirements

On completing the Vets-in-the-Wild program you will qualify for 6 academic credits from the North-West University, South Africa. Students are graded throughout the expedition.


Grading is designed to facilitate the learning experience, encourage teamwork, synthesis and integration of key concepts. The requirements for university accreditation are essential.  Deliberate attempts are made to move away from the often competitive and stressful grading approach that dominates many tertiary education systems. It is understood that much of the learning on this expedition is “experiential” and may be difficult to quantify. An expansive grading method is opted for where interaction, discussion and practical projects are integral parts of the system.



Expedition Schedule

(Subject to revision)

Day 1

Airport transfers, welcoming events.                                

Accommodation: Lodge

Contact hours: 1T


Day 2 & 3

Assist in Community Veterinary Services for rural communities.

Accommodation: Lodge

Contact hours: 4L  4I  5F  4T

Day 4

Visit to Vulture rehabilitation centre for an introduction in the conservation of vultures and the threats that they experience in a developing country

Accommodation: Lodge

Contact hours: 2L  5F  1T


Day 5

Depart for North West University, Potchefstroom

Registration and Lectures on Game Ranch Economics, Ecotourism

Accommodation: Lodge

Contact hours: 4L  1F  1T


Day 6

Travel to Kruger National Park

Accommodation: Camping in KNP

Contact hours: 1F   4T


Day 7

Game viewing and ecosystem study, Kruger National Park

Accommodation: Camping in KNP

Contact hours: 1F   2T


Day 8

Lectures on the management and ecology of wildlife in Kruger National Park

Accommodation: Camping in KNP

Contact hours:  4L   2I   2T


Day 9-11

Lectures, demonstrations and participation in tracking, security, management and ecology of wildlife. Plant and tree identification. Animal behavior and fieldwork on security and anti-poaching and the use of UAV’s.

Accommodation: Private bush camp Greater Kruger National Park

Contact hours: 7F   4L   7I


Day 12-15

Wildlife Diseases and the diagnostics, the pathology and bush laboratory techniques and total post-mortem analysis. Rural African domestic stock disease from wildlife prevention program.

Accommodation: Remote wildlife veterinary lab bushcamp, Greater Kruger National Park

Contact hours: 9F   8L   10I


Day 16-20

Game Capture Program lectures:

Pharmacological workings of capture drugs and tranquilizers.

The use of darting equipment.

Care and nutrition in captivity.

Daily practical hands-on, in-field game capture operations.

Accommodation: Bushcamp

Contact hours: 12F   4L   8I   3T


Day 21

Am. Darting a moving target from a helicopter. 

Pm. Final exam, graduation ceremony and farewell dinner.

Accommodation: Bushcamp

Contact hours: 3F   2I   2L


Day 22

Depart for O.R. Tambo International Airport after breakfast

Contact hours: 4T


Contact Hours


L= Lecture hours                              : 32 hours       (= 3 credits)

I = Interactive demonstrations     : 33 hours       (= 1 credits)

F= Field modules                             : 44 hours        (= 2 credits)

T= Travel time*                                 : 18 hours                              


Total academic contact hours = 109 hours (6 credit course)


Study material

A comprehensive Information Dossier will be e-mailed to all participants upon their registration for the course. A study guide will be supplied upon arrival in South Africa. You are encouraged to expand on this with your own notes taken during lectures, meetings and interactions with wildlife professionals in the field.



Academic presenters:

1. Prof Wouter van Hoven (DSc)      

Wildlife ecology, Elephant  management, Wildlife economics, Sustainable use of Wildlife, African Rhinoceros Protection


2. Prof Peet van der Merwe (Ph.D.) - North West University

Game ranch economics


3. Prof Melville Saayman (Ph.D.) - North West University



4. Dr John van Zyl (BVSc) *      


5. Dr James Roxburgh (MSc BVSc) *        


6. Dr Nolan Landman (BVSc) *                 


 7. Leon Theron (MSc Wildlife Management)       

Nature reserve ecology and management


8. Ralf Kalwa (MSc Wildlife Management)

    Wildlife Management Consultant,

Ecological management of Kruger National Park


9. Lourens van Essen (MSc Wildlife Management)                

Wildlife ecologist and zoologist          


*Veterinarians that are wildlife specialists providing lectures and practical participation in wildlife physiology, diseases and game capture.        


*Because long distance traveling between venues is necessary students are always accompanied by an academic or registered tour guide and the safari bus actually becomes a mobile class room where discussions are encouraged.


Program costs and dates

US$4980 per person sharing


Costs include:

  • Accommodation and transportation for the duration of the program

  • Airport transfers as stated

  • Lectures and course material

  • Academic credits and transfers

  • Camping equipment where needed

  • Permits and entry fees

  • All meals

  • Group activities


Excludes Air travel to and from South Africa & Optional activities


Special needs

Any student with a disability, requiring specific accommodation or other assistance during the course, will be accommodated as far as possible. Please contact the office directly with special requests before registration.


Some activities involve moderate exercise like hiking and the recovery and movement of sedated animals. Such participation is always voluntary. 


Scheduled Departures For 2019


 VW01    26 May – 16 June

 VW02    09 - 30 June

 VW03    23 June - 14 July

 VW04    30 June - 21 July

 VW05    07 - 28 July

 VW06    21 July - 11 August

 VW07    28 July - 18 August

 VW08    01 - 22 December