A blog by Nirvana Leaver, final-year vet student at the Dick Vet Veterinary College, Edinburgh.

Hi, I’m Nirvana – Co-Founder of the Dick Vet Wildlife Conservation Society at Edinburgh University. I have been a part of The Expedition Project Ambassador team since 2019.

Although I have been working with The Expedition Project since 2019, since March 2020, we’ve been doing live streams and developing online courses with the help of Wildlife Vets like Dr. Peter Rogers, Ecologists like Terry-Lee Honiball and fellow ambassadors from Nottingham and RVC, London.

Back in 2017, I cofounded the Dick Vet Wildlife Conservation Society (DVWCS) with my best friend. It was the vet schools first society dedicated to wildlife conservation. Through talks, seminars and Edinburgh’s first dedicated wildlife conservation conference, we’ve educated hundreds of students on the importance of wildlife protection and the preservation of biodiversity across the globe.

Our aims have always been to broaden student experience by offering affordable wildlife placements, all the while emphasising and demonstrating the importance of cross-professional collaboration. The veterinary profession alone does not hold the answers to conservation. Success requires continual exchange of information between critical scientific cornerstones and there should be no sense of “competition”.

Debate panel with five well-respected conservationists hosted at The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh back in 2019. It was the first conference of its kind hosted at the vet school, welcoming over 100 students.

So, when an email dropped into my inbox introducing me to The Expedition Project, I jumped at the opportunity to get involved! Created by Roger Wynne-Dyke, the founding principle of his social enterprise is collaboration. He’s dedicated years to researching and partnering with ethical, conservation forward businesses while pairing students with valuable and worthwhile wildlife volunteer opportunities across South Africa.

As the pandemic closed off the opportunity to travel internationally, we’ve hosted numerous online events include live stream events, an inter-collegiate pub quiz, live Q&As and, most recently, we’ve launched a number of accessible wildlife vet online modules. Alongside world renowned wildlife veterinarian Dr Peter Rogers (Provet Wildlife Services), we’ve put together a set of short online courses that students can complete in their own time with a cup of tea and a biscuit. So far, we’ve tackled cheetahs, rhino and the unique but vulnerable pangolin. Each one has provided an in-depth insight into the treatment of species we wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to. Interestingly, they’ve also allowed us to compare our knowledge of domestic species to animals that will inevitably need our protection to survive. All of the courses involve aspects of both clinical teaching alongside management and care.

Dr. Peter Rogers has been practicing wildlife medicine for decades and has gained invaluable knowledge through both triumph and failure, and he continually reminds us throughout the courses that conservation is not a job that can be done alone. This is something that requires collaboration to truly success in saving these animals. By passing on his knowledge, he is educating (and inspiring) the next generation of wildlife vets. We are incredibly grateful for his time and unwavering passion in creating these courses.CHECK OUT THE COURSES HERE!

African elephant spraying water from its trunk.
We’ve got a two-part module on elephants up next – part one has JUST been released! If you’re a member of the DVWCS or purchase a student membership with The EXPEDITION Project, you’ll get both half price!

You can read more at my The Edi Vet Diary here.

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