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Holly Baines - South Africa Veterinary  Internship

The South Africa Veterinary Internship offers a great opportunity to gain practical and theoretical veterinary Game Reserve experience. Holly Baines shares her experience!

1) Why did you choose this particular project?

I chose this project because I have always wanted to go to South Africa; I am truly fascinated by wildlife and want to work with wildlife as a career. You get up close and personal with a range of different species including some of the big five. I was constantly learning new things from the vet Ru who was absolutely amazing, I could not have asked for a better teacher. He always talked through what he was doing and as a result I learnt a lot more about the anatomy and physiology of wild animals as well as parasites, ticks and diseases in the wild and what can be done to control these, all things that interest me greatly.

2) Which kind of work and activities did you do during your project?

We did a range of different activities which included game drives, fence patrolling, tree chopping, lectures, post mortems and veterinary procedures. My favourite lectures were on parasites and ticks as well as diseases such as Anthrax, Rabies and Lyme Disease. The types of procedures included treating animals for parasites, both internal (1% Ivermectin by intramuscular injection) and external (12.5% Amitraz by spray), administering multi vitamin injections, squeezing/flushing abscesses on elephants legs, a post-mortem on a wild pig, calculating the right dose of Zoleti & Medetomidine to immobilize a lion by intramuscular dart, draining an abscess from the lion’s chest which was believed to be Lipoma and monitoring the lion’s heartbeat, pulse, respiration and temperature throughout the procedure.

3) How did the culture and people differ to home, and what were the locals like?

South Africa is so scenic and beautiful compared to back home and the locals are all so friendly. The food is very rich – lots of bread, potato, meat and buttery veg!

4) What was the accommodation like?

Accommodation was better than I thought it would be. It was nice and cosy with a wood burning fire, TV, sofas etc. You’re surrounded by wildlife and literally wake up to the sound of the lions roaring. However make sure you don’t leave anything valuable outside, the monkeys will steal it ha!

5) What were the staff and other volunteers like?

The staff we’re amazing - always happy, cheery and cracking jokes. They really go out of their way to make sure you’re happy and have an amazing experience.

6) What was your most amazing moment or your best memory?

There are so many to choose from! My most amazing memory with regards to the internship would definitely have to be when we operated on the white lion. It was absolutely incredible to be able to hear a lion’s heartbeat and help such a beautiful creature. My most amazing memory with regards to things I did in my personal time would definitely have to be shark cage diving with great whites. That was very surreal!

7) Do you feel the work you were doing was worthwhile?

Absolutely, it was the most invaluable experience I’ve done yet to date and I have learnt so much from it. I truly believe this experience has put me in further stead for my future career.

8) What sort of wildlife did you encounter?

All sorts - lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, elephants, rhinos, hippos, giraffes, zebras, springbok, antelope, wildebeest, buffalo, jackals, monkeys, meerkats, parrots and many more.

9) What were you hoping to learn while on project, and have you achieved those goals?

I was hoping to learn more about conservation, wild animal biology, diseases in the wild and what can be done to control these.  I have absolutely achieved these goals and more! Working along side such a knowledgeable and helpful vet has taught me so many new things and has aloud me to get involved in things I could only dream of doing before I did this internship.

10) Any tips and advice you might like to pass on to   future volunteers?

Make sure you bring warm clothes if you go during their winter it gets very cold at night! Also bring a torch and a pair of binoculars for game drives.

11) What do you have planned next?

I will be applying to do a Master’s program with the hope to enhance my knowledge further and utilise my skills already gained from university and experience. I aim to carry out my own research and continue on to do a PhD.

12) Anything else you would like to add?

I highly recommend this veterinary internship; it was an all-round incredible experience and I hope to return one day in the future.

By Holly Baines - South Africa Veterinary Intern

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