Veterinary and Wildlife Conservation Internship

Namibia

Step outside your comfort zone and use your skills to treat some of Africa's most endangered animals. This is the ideal opportunity learn new skills as you assist the project's vet team in a unique animal care environment.

Whether you are a qualified veterinary professional or a vet or pre-vet student, your skills will be put to good use on our Veterinary and Wildlife Conservation Internship in Namibia. Contribute to the health and well-being of Africa's iconic wildlife, both small and large, and work alongside local vets, assisting in their daily rounds and health checks.

Your day-to-day duties will vary and can range from treating a cheetah's tooth access and bandaging warthogs to engaging in the sanctuary's core activities, including bush walks and enrichment with orphaned baboons. You will be a valued member of the care and conservation team, where your skills and expertise are much needed to protect and support the area's wildlife.

WHY CHOOSE THIS PROJECT?

Engage with a diverse range of animal species, from warthogs to meerkats, cheetahs, primates and impala while being immersed in the life of a working animal sanctuary in the heart of the Kalahari. Use your skills to work in a unique environment whilst enjoying a true working holiday experience in Namibia.

Quick Facts

Who can join: Volunteers from 18 - 45 years
How long can I stay: 4 weeks - 12 weeks
Accommodation: Volunteer village or staff housing
Transfer time: 3 hours
Pick up from: Windhoek (city)
Meals: 3 meals a day
Start dates: Projects run throughout the year, starting on a Friday and ending on a Thursday
How much: from $2,495 (minimum 4 weeks)

Background

This wildlife sanctuary and rehabilitation centre has been a working farm for more than 30 years and the original owners remain involved today. When the owners rescued a vervet monkey from abusive owners, what started as a simple love for wild animals grew into a passion which saw them taking lions from a South African zoo which had closed down - transforming what was a hobby into a full-time occupation.

International exposure resulted in a huge increase in the number of animals offered to and taken in by the family, and a wildlife trust was started to cover the costs. The centre was opened to the public in 1993 to help raise the funds required to keep it operational and to help with long term conservation objectives such as large animal release.

For the last 30 years, the centre has been actively involved in the care, rehabilitation and rescue of neglected, abused and abandoned animals. Its staff have rescued more than 380 indigenous wild animals to date, many of them still living at the centre.

Conservation and the protection of animals is the number one priority at this project and animals are rescued from dangerous situations and collected from farmers who have captured those which are threatening their animals and crops. The intervention gives them a second chance at life, either through the provision of enclosures as near as possible to their natural habitat or, more preferably, released into dedicated protected sites throughout Namibia.

The number of cheetah and lions have plummeted in the last decade and the rehabilitation project hopes to make a real difference to wild populations by re-establishing big cats back into the Namibian wilderness.

Highlights

  • Experience life in the desert as you join volunteers on a beautiful farm on the edge of the Kalahari Desert
  • Work with a huge range of mammals, birds, reptiles and snakes - from cheetah and wild dog to owls, eagles, lizards, warthogs and snakes
  • Participate in a diverse range of activities from conservation to animal care, research and animal handling
  • Use your veterinary skills to support the permanent vet team in animal care, health checks, operations and vaccinations
  • Develop new skills as you work with animals you will not have treated before and diseases you may not have come across
  • Care for orphaned and injured wildlife and help with animals that cannot be released
  • Work alongside volunteers on the Hands-on Wildlife Rehabilitation programme

What sort of things will I be doing?

No two days on this project are ever the same and their motto is Expect the Unexpected! Activities you will get involved with during your time on the Veterinary Programme and the Hands-on Wildlife Rehab Programme may include:

Veterinary support:

  • Experience a different kind of veterinary practice, and learn about animals and diseases only common to Namibia or in Africa
  • Work on sick, injured or orphaned wildlife
  • Retrieve blood from wild dogs for DNA testing
  • Deworming and de-ticking
  • Participate in rural outreach clinics and help with spaying, vaccinations and treatment
  • Take part in animal darting and game capture in the field (only a few times a year)

When the project vets are off site or there is no veterinary work required, you will join volunteers on the Hands-on Animal Care and Rehabilitation Programme. Activities on this project will include:

Animal care and rehabilitation:

  • Prepare meals for the domesticated animals
  • Feed animals - from lions to leopard, wild dog and cheetah
  • Help with animal enrichment to stimulate natural behaviours
  • Clean out enclosures and feeding pens
  • Animal interaction - work closely especially with smaller animals like meerkats, baboons and monkeys - have you ever walked with a troop of baboons?!
  • Help rehabilitate animals who can one day be released back into the wild

Maintenance and repair:

  • Build and repair enclosures and fences
  • Help dig new waterholes and repair erosion

Research:

  • Conduct studies of rehabilitated animals to assess their welfare and readiness for release
  • Record behaviour patterns and social interactions

Learn about wildlife and the environment:

  • Go on bush walks and learn to track animals
  • Identify the trees and plants around you and learn about their uses in traditional medicine and legends
  • Assist with game counts around the reserve
  • Go on horse patrols into the game park
  • Learn about the constellations and the stunning night skies

Please note that activities will vary according to what animals are at the project at the time and what their needs are. Be flexible and bear in mind that the variety and number of animals can change daily. The only thing we can guarantee is that you will have an amazing time!

Details

Do I need any experience to volunteer on this programme?

While this internship is more suitable for veterinary and animal care professionals and students, if you do not have any experience or are considering a future in animal care or veterinary science you will also find the internship very rewarding. We ask that you have an interest in wildlife and conservation and the ability to communicate suitably in English. You should be of reasonable mobility and fitness as there is some walking and foot-based tracking involved in the project.

There will only be two veterinary places available at any time and ideally you should be able to stay a minimum of 4 weeks.

How do I get to the project?

Included in your programme price is return transfers from your accommodation in Windhoek city to the project and back. The transfer leaves on a Friday morning and returns on a Thursday, to any location in Windhoek. Your return trip to the airport from Windhoek is not included but we can easily arrange that or you can arrange it with your accommodation provider.

A day in the life

Volunteers will usually get up around 6.30am to get started before the day heats up.

Have breakfast in the volunteer village, prepare your backpacks for the mornings activity and walk up to the farm for the morning meeting where you will be issued with your programme for the day.

Your first job may be to accompany vets on their rounds of animals who are recovering from operations or treatment. Assist with check-ups, wound dressing and injections. If there is no vet work to be done your first activity may be to prepare food, clean out enclosures or do farm work. You may go on a horse ride to check on the wildlife and monitor any injured or sick animals. 

Return to the farm for lunch at around 1pm and prepare for the afternoon activity. Perhaps you will work on one of the research projects with the cheetah or go on a walk into the reserve with the jackals or caracals. Volunteers also learn to track animals who have been released and monitor their well-being. Afternoon activities continue until sundown.

At 5.00pm the lions are fed!

Enjoy a home-cooked dinner while you chat about the day and make new friends.  write your blogs and check your photographs.

At 8pm volunteers who are doing the Baboon and Animal Sleep-Out will depart for the farm and for those volunteers who stay behind, the kitchen is open until 9 and then volunteers can socialise at the bar or get a good nights sleep!

Please note that veterinary activities will vary according to what animals are at the project at the time and what their needs are. Be flexible and bear in mind that the variety and number of animals can change daily. The only thing we can guarantee is that you will have an amazing time!

Pricing and Dates

When can I volunteer?

Volunteers can begin this Wildlife Veterinary Internship on any Friday throughout the year. Projects end on a Thursday when volunteers are transferred back to Windhoek for their onward travel.

The minimum stay on this project is 4 weeks. If you cannot commit to that length of time, please let us know and we will see if we can make an alternative arrangement. 

Project pricing 2017:
4 weeks: $2,495
6 weeks: $3,745
8 weeks: $4,995
10 weeks: $6,195
12 weeks: $7,295

Remember, these prices include a transfer from Windhoek to the project and back to Windhoek. Volunteers should arrive at least the day before their project starts and overnight in Windhoek. Your accommodation there can arrange a collection from the airport to your lodge. Please arrange return flights for later than 4pm on your last day (Thursday) to ensure that you will arrive back at the airport on time.

Visa fees are excluded and visas take approximately 8 weeks to organise - please remember this when making your booking!

What does the cost include?

  • Programme fee - financing which goes back into the programme your are involved with; this includes funding for equipment, supplies, vehicles and foodstuffs
  • Transfers to and from your accommodation in Windhoek to the project on the scheduled date and time
  • Full board and lodging for the duration of your programme including laundry (exc. any snacks, alcoholic or fizzy drinks from the bar)
  • Three meals per day
  • Full 24 hour support and training from your programme co-ordinators during your stay
  • All programme-related transport and equipment required to do your work

The programme cost excludes:

  • Flights to Windhoek
  • Transfers from Windhoek Hosea Kutako Airport to and from Windhoek at the beginning and end of your programme
  • Visas fees - all volunteers must apply for a work permit (we will organise this for you) - the cost is around N$900 (around US $65)
  • Any expenses prior to your programme start date (including pre- and post- programme accommodation)
  • Any personal items such as alcoholic drinks, snacks, additional food or souvenirs
  • Personal medical and travel insurance, which must cover the entire duration of your programme and should include cover for repatriation, air evacuation and any activities you may undertake or plan to undertake
  • Any additional trips outside the volunteer programme
  • Telephone calls and internet
  • Drinks and snacks from the bar

View our booking terms and conditions

Accommodation

Your home on this project will either be in the Volunteer Village or the project staff's quarters, depending on availability and other bookings.  You will share with up to four (same sex) volunteers in a comfortable unit. There are shared ablution and toilet facilities in the Village (not in the chalets themselves) with hot and cold running water. Volunteers will need to bring a sleeping bag for camp-outs in the bush but normal bed linen and towels are supplied while you are in your chalets.

The village uses solar power for lighting and there is a separate room where volunteers can charge cell phones, laptops and cameras - there is no permanent power source in the cabins. There is a laundry service but volunteers are asked to wash their own underwear and socks - you will need to bring your own laundry detergent for this.

We will try and accommodate couples in private accommodation but this cannot be guaranteed, especially during busy times - please ask when you enquire!

Three meals a day are provided while you are volunteering and volunteers are often asked to help prepare meals for the rest of the team. Vegetarians and those with dietary requirements can usually be accommodated - please just let us know on your booking form! There is a bar on site for alcoholic and fizzy drinks and snacks and there is also a souvenir shop.

Destination

Volunteering in Namibia

Namibia is a place of contrasts - from vibrant, colourful cities to immense desert landscapes, rocky mountains and the chill of the Atlantic Ocean. It is characterised by vast open spaces, breathtaking scenery and has a rich cultural history and some of Africa’s most stunning and unique landscapes. With its looming red sand dunes, the turbulent Orange River, a variety of adventure activities, traditional towns, deep canyons and spectacular bronze sunsets, Namibia is a travellers dream.

Namibia is perfect for travellers looking for unspoilt wilderness areas, 300 days a year of perfect sunshine and a huge variety of wildlife. Its name is taken from the 80 million year old Namib Desert which makes up more than 10% of the country - Namib means “vast” in the local Nama language. With a stable infrastructure, travel around the country is easy and getting off the beaten track into deserted wildlife areas can be done with confidence. We highly recommend extending your stay in Namibia and taking part in a scheduled tour or self-drive safaris. Take a look at the Namibia tour options here

Sossusvlei Dunes are home to the highest sand dunes in the world and Namibia’s most outstanding scenic attraction. Part of the Namib Desert, these dunes have developed over millions of years, the wind continuously shifting the sand further and further inland, reshaping patterns in distinctive warm tints. Climbing to the top of one of these dunes provides breathtaking views of the whole area, including Deadvlei, a large ghostly expanse of dried white clay punctuated by skeletons of ancient camelthorn trees, carbon dated between 500-600 years old.

Etosha National Park is Namibia’s first conservation area, designated in 1907. Undoubtedly one of the greatest wildlife spectacles on earth and one of Africa’s best game re-serves, Etosha is home to huge herds of elephant, black-maned lions, cheetah and the world’s largest population of the rare black rhino.  Etosha owes its unique landscape to the Etosha Pan, a vast shallow depression of approximately 1,930 square miles which forms the heart of the park. Once part of a large inland lake fed by rivers from the north and east, it dried up 120 million years ago as continental drift changed the slope of the land and the course of the tributaries. This white, chalky expanse colours the park, and with the waterholes, creates the characteristic atmosphere of the Etosha of today.

To the west of Khorixas in North-West Namibia is Twyfelfontein, a massive open-air art gallery carved into red rock by ancient Bushmen overlooking an expansive valley below. The engravings, some estimated to be 6,000 years old, record the wildlife seen in area - giraffe, rhino, elephants, ostrich and even a lion. It is believed that the creators incised their engravings as a means of entering the supernatural world and recording their sha-manic experience among the spirits. Whatever the meaning, the site was awarded UNES-CO World Heritage status in 2008.

Swakopmund is Namibia’s playground - a holiday haven away from the dusty heat of the interior. While there is plenty to do within the city, the real action takes place in the desert surrounding the town. Quad-biking, sand-boarding, sand-skiing, parasailing and other adrenaline actives are available from any of the adventure operators in the area. Visit Walvis Bay and join a dolphin cruise or explore the lagoon on a kayak.

What will the weather be like?
During the Namibian summer (November - January) temperatures average 30°c and often go to over 40°c. Volunteers should bring light cotton clothing, a wide-brimmed hat or cap, polarised sun-glasses, a water bottle, plenty of high factor sunscreen (and after-sun!), strong mosquito spray and closed shoes. A light waterproof jacket is also essential for sudden downpours! Average lows are around 17-20°c. Summer is an amazing time of year where you can watch thunderstorms approach from miles away and witness incredible electric storms and light shows!

During winter (April - August) daytime temperatures average 25-27°c with no rainfall at all. Temperatures during the night and in the mornings and evenings regularly go below 0°c and volunteers are advised to bring lots of layers including fleeces and a warm hat for nighttime camping with a wide-brimmed hat or cap and loose light clothing for daytime.

Excursions

Do I get some time off?

The animals are fed every day including Sundays but you will get time off over the weekend to relax and enjoy the sun and the pool! The project is located approximately 3 hours east of Windhoek on the edge of the Kalahari desert, so excursions off base are limited, but it is well worth considering spending some time either before or after your programme exploring some of this beautiful country.

We can help you with self-drive safaris including itineraries covering Namibia's most impressive highlights. Take a look at some sample Namibia self-drive itineraries. Car hire is very affordable, the roads are good, navigation is easy and hire companies are reputable.

If you don't fancy a self-drive, we can also book you on a scheduled tour including as many of Namibia's highlights as you have time for. Whether you want to go game viewing in Etosha National Park, to see the magnificent sand dunes at Sossusvlei or experience dune surfing and sand-boarding in Swakopmund, we have a tour for you! Take a look at our Namibia scheduled tours.

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