Wildlife Vet Experience – August 2022

Live blog of the Wildlife Vet Experience – August 2022

Follow the journey of students from UK universities (including the University of Glasgow, the University of Liverpool, the University of Nottingham, and RVC in London), plus a recent RVC, London graduate, and a vet nurse, as they tackle their biggest, most exciting and most daring vet placement to date…the Wildlife Vet Experience 2022 with The Expedition Project and Enza Safari!

Support Student fundraisers Find out more about this trip Join Wildlife Vet Online


Week 1:
Monday – CEMS – Sable
Tuesday – CEMS – Blesbok, Sable, Cattle
Wednesday – CEMS – White-flanked Impala, Black Impala, Waterbuck, Kudu, Sable
Thursday – CEMS – Rhino, Buffalo, Roan Antelope
Friday – CEMS – Buffalo, Sable
Week 2
Monday – AHEMS – Cheetah, Serval, Rhino, and Wild Dog
Tuesday – CEMS – Cheetah + AHEMS Ostrich, Zebra, and Hornbill
Wednesday – AHEMS – Rhino and Wild Dog
Thursday – Community day (plus Dassie, Lion, and Cheetah observations)
Friday – CEMS – Rhino
Saturday – AHEMS – Domestic Dogs

Live temperature
Last location

Week 1 Accommodation

Read more about Magwena River Lodge accommodation here.

Day 1 (Sunday)

Travel day

Arrival at O.R. Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg, followed by a 453km journey to Gravelotte, Limpopo for our first week.

A long day of travelling. 7hr drive to the lodge. We had a hearty dinner and an enjoyable chat and briefing around the fire before all crashed for the evening.


Everyone landed in Joburg and we all met each other for the first time. It was a long 6-8hr drive to the accommodation from the airport with a few stops along the way. The scenery was beautiful and constantly changing as we moved from one landscape to the next. Deserts occupied the first part of the drive with scattered cacti all around. As we continued, farmlands and then eventually woodlands with rivers and lakes around every bend. I am looking forward to seeing a variety of South African views.

Day 2 (Monday)

Orientation and bush walk

This morning we started with a relaxed breakfast and now leaving on a guided bush walk for a short while before we leave for our Vet work around 10 am.

Vet shadowing with Dr Boshoff – game management and free-roaming breeding industry (PM)

We started our Veterinary work with a Sable Bull that was lacking condition and had been pushed out of the herd by other dominant bulls. He was given an IV Drip. A tube with molasses and water was also given.

The next game farm we worked on 6 sable. Immobilizing young bulls and cows for data collection and one was translocated.

…look out for more details to come.

Day 3 (Tuesday)

Vet shadowing with Dr Boshoff – game management and free-roaming breeding industry

We did three vet visits: 1st was treating a blesbok with a fractured leg. Then we darted, relocated and did chips and shots for 7 sable. Then lastly we took blood samples from over 60 cattle in quite rural conditions.

Pictured above: A fractured leg on a Blesbok was treated four weeks ago and today was a follow-up. A good recovery so far apparently


Left lodge at 6am to meet Dr Bossie at a farm. There was a Blesbok that had broken its fibia and had been in a cast for the last four weeks. Today was a recheck to see how the bone graft and wound was healing. The bone had been accepted and the wound was flushed to provide a clean environment for wrapping the leg again. A wet to wet bandaging was placed to encourage the growth of granulation tissue around the new bone. This will be checked again in two weeks.

Next, we assisted in the relocation of 7 junior Sables. This was done in order to move the growing Sables out of harm’s way due to potential competition with the older males as the younger males approach sexual maturity. The team performed very efficiently and did well lifting and moving the Sables, giving intramuscular injections, and handling them safely during procedures. We ended the day drawing blood from 60+ cattle. This was an interesting change of pace but a rather neat experience as it allowed many of the students to gain some first-time practical experience. Three of the students drew blood from a jugular vein for the very first time and became quite proficient at it. Definitely a skill they will use during vet school and once into the real world. We even discussed two different means for drawing blood using the jugular vein or the tail vein. Bosie explained the safety considerations that needed to be considered for both of these options when comparing African-farmed cattle to those that we may see as students on teaching farms. We got back to the accommodation around 6 pm while watching the sunset. It was beautiful! Looking forward to what tomorrow will bring.

Day 4 (Wednesday)

Vet shadowing with Dr Boshoff – game management and free-roaming breeding industry

Today, we have been darting and relocating a number of different antelope. So far we’ve done impala and waterbuck. The impala were colour variations, white-flanked impala and black impala. We’re currently darting kudu which is much more evasive and we’re having to flush them out in long walking lines.


Another early start. We headed to a different kind of breeding farm today. We were relocating and working with a few different species. We initially moved two impalas, one white flank tail and the other a black impala. They were two younger bucks that were being moved to form their own bachelors’ herd. Additionally, we moved two young waterbuck bucks. As a qualified vet (Nicole), I was allowed to reverse the anaesthetic drugs on the waterbuck. I placed the drug intravenously using an ear vein. All of the animals at this farm were quite small and young animals. It was interesting to drive past fully grown adults of both species to compare sizes though. To end our time on this farm we ear tagged two Kudu.

The next farm we went to had sold four Sable to an open game reserve. Therefore we darted and moved four fully grown Sable for relocation. This was a big change compared to the young stock we were working with earlier in the day. It is amazing how heavy these animals can be. We ended our day with two more young impalas, before being given a tour of the owner’s orange factory. We all got to try a fruit called a shaddock and even got to take some home. It was everyone’s first time trying this fruit and it was a big hit.

Day 5 (Thursday)

TEP-funded Rhino dehorning and Buffalo work

259 Rhinos killed by poachers in 2022 so far! We fund rhino de-hornings as a poaching preventative measure thanks to the financial contributions and participation of our #WVE participants!

Today was a very special day! With each group, we aim to fund a rhino dehorning and luckily this was once again possible with our August group. We cannot describe how special it is to come up close and personal with these special, iconic animals.
Thanks to the financial contributions and participation of our #WVE participants and groups we can make an impact on conservation and potentially save a rhino’s life! Thank you, everyone, including Dr Boshoff for your passion and hard work!

This morning, we did 4 Rhino dehornings. Katherine, Grace and Alex went in the helicopter 🚁!

We are unable to share more details of the rhino work we did today until a later date – look out for more soon.

After that, we spent the whole day doing lots and lots of buffalo work. We relocated 7 Buffalo and then tagged and measured about 8 to 10 Buffalo. A lot of hands-on experience with the buffalo and all were pros at it by the end of it!

We then did a necropsy/postmortem of a hermaphrodite Roan Antelope calf which was fascinating and definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience

…look out for more details to come.

Day 6 (Friday)

Vet shadowing with Dr Scheepers (AM)

The day started with a slightly later breakfast. We then got introduced and briefed by Dr Gerhard Scheepers, regarding the veterinary work we would do on Selwane Nature Reserve.

We then darted and worked on a Big Buffalo bull for data collection and DNA. Followed by one Sable Bull and two Sable cows. Also, data collection and DNA samples were taken.

Had a chilled afternoon by the pool and did a bush walk including some local ‘bush games’ (you had to be there!). We also checked out geology and rock deposits in the river bed and found a cool tortoise shell. The day concluded with sundowners and springbok shots (traditional South African Amarula and Peppermint Liqueur shot cocktail).

…look out for more details to come.

Week 2 Accommodation

Read more about Bundox Explorer Tented Camp accommodation here.

Day 7 (Saturday)

Travel day

…look out for more details to come.

Day 8 (Sunday)

Day off activities

Today we went for a game drive and saw a breeding herd of Elephants of about 25 cows and calves with four very young (and cute) calves. We also saw a fresh Black Rhino track but were unable to find it. We also saw Hippo, Klipspringer, Impala, Waterbuck, Giraffe, a Martial Eagle and a Brown-Snake Eagle.

We then had a relaxed afternoon by the pool and are going for a sundowner drive this evening on the Olifants River ☀️🍹

Day 9 (Monday)

Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre – Orientation and management

Our first day at HESC started with immediately diving in to prepare all the animal feeds. This mostly involves meat and supplement preparation.

The group was split into two vehicles and proceeded to feed all the amazing animals that call HESC home. After feeding, bowls need to be collected, cleaned and ready for the next day. The group went on a guided tour of the facility, learning all the details that make HESC a historic and special facility.

The afternoon was spent assisting with animal enclosures and feeding the larger herbivores.

After an exciting day, a relaxed and enjoyable evening was shared back at camp.

…look out for more details to come.

Day 10 (Tuesday)

Lectures with Dr Rogers – Cheetah breeding and cheetah genetics (AM)

Our second day at HESC started much like the first. Preparing and feeding the animals. Always very special to see animals like Cheetahs, Wild Dogs and servals up close.

We cleaned some more water baths and then eagerly awaited Dr Rogers’ arrival. The students were treated to an informative lecture on Cheetah veterinary care by Dr Rogers.

Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre – Cheetah check-ups (PM)

After the lecture, we had the opportunity to watch the theory in action as we participated in the immobilization and treatment of an injured cheetah. A truly special experience.

Dinner was shared with the wonderful staff of HESC. A traditional braai, eaten around the fire. An enjoyable experience sharing life lessons learned from working with African wildlife.

…look out for more details to come.

Day 11 (Wednesday)

Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre – Rehabilitation and breeding management and procedures

Wednesday was our last day at HESC where we cherished all of our last moments with the cheetahs we had come to know. We also fed the African Wild Dogs; seeing their feeding frenzy up close was incredible.

Another feeding frenzy we got to witness was the feeding of the vultures at HESC’s own “vulture restaurant” where all excess meat gets discarded. We saw White-backed Vultures, Hooded Vultures, and Marabou Storks.

…look out for more details to come.

Day 12 (Thursday)

Community day today as we visited two of our favourites!

Thursday was our community outreach day. We had the opportunity to visit Daktari and see the wonderful work they are doing to uplift, educate and take care of both the communities and the wildlife. We were given a tour of the facility and met some amazing animals. The students also gave a talk to the bush school learners about what inspired them to pursue a career in Veterinary work.

The visit was concluded with some fun football games played together.

The afternoon was spent visiting Nourish Eco Village. An inspiring tour was given shortly after a traditional lunch of Mielie pap, cabbage and chicken necks.

We were shown around the village, learning more about all the renewable and community uplift net projects on the go. The afternoon ended with each student planting a tree – a fantastic way to offset our carbon footprint for the trip.

A delicious dinner of butter chicken curry and naans was enjoyed back at camp.

Interested in volunteering with these projects? Let us know and we will help you! Email [email protected].
Daktari Bush School (AM)

First off, at Daktari, we met the team and the kids and spoke to them about a career in veterinary medicine and what it entails. We got a chance to get a tour of the fantastic facilities at the bush school and wildlife orphanage. And then had a quick game of soccer!

…look out for more details to come.

Nourish Eco Village (PM)

On to Nourish Eco Village for lunch (some of the team trying chicken necks for the first time!) and then a tour of all the inspiring projects and initiatives and finally a chance to offset our travel carbon footprint with some tree planting.

…look out for more details to come.

Day 13 (Friday)

Early start today for our jam-packed day all about Rhino anti-poaching.

We had the amazing opportunity to fund and partake in a rhino conservation project on one of the private game reserves, part of the greater Kruger park.

We worked alongside the Vet, ground crews, anti-poaching team, spotter plane and helicopter.

The teams worked together to locate the rhino, and immobilize and sedate the animal. Once safe to do so, the students were able to assist with the procedure of trimming the rhino’s horn. A drastic yet painless measure to ensure poachers do not kill the animal for the horn.

After the rhino work, we travelled to another area of the reserve to participate in a helicopter darting practical. The group were taught hit to use a veterinary darting gun and did some practice shots on the ground before having the once-in-a-lifetime experience of darting a moving target from the helicopter. A wonderful experience.

The exciting visit was concluded with a visit to the reserves K9 anti-poaching unit. A demonstration was performed for the group. These are incredible animals trained in the detection of contraband, apprehension and tracking. A truly unique experience.

Back at camp, we watched the sunset with elephants drinking from the watering hole below.

Dinner was another delicious braai, salad and a sweetbread side.

Yes, you read all of the above correctly! Have you ever heard of anything quite like this?

TEP-funded Rhino dehorning with Dr Rogers
We are unable to share more details of the rhino work we did today until a later date – look out for more soon.
Helicopter darting with Dr Rogers
K9 anti-poaching unit demonstration with Tango K9

…look out for more details to come.

Day 14 (Saturday)

Today we worked with @hoedspruit_halo going door to door. We administered vaccines and also identified dogs for more treatment, many had mange and some had TVT. The dogs with TVT will go back with HALO for 4 to 6 weeks to receive treatment and then be reunited with their owners.
We then revisited the Tango K9 unit where we saw more demonstrations and a breakdown of their equipment. The students loved getting to give the bloodhounds all the love and belly rubs in the world.
We then finished the day off with an evening game drive and saw a big journey of giraffes, a big herd of buffalo, and a massive bull elephant.
We are now about to have a poitjie (South African pot stew) and the girls are throwing us our first “cèilidh” (a traditional Scottish dance).

Community checkups with HALO (Hoedspruit Animal Outreach) (AM)

…look out for more details to come.

K9 anti-poaching unit demonstration with Tango K9

…look out for more details to come.

Day 15 (Sunday)

Departure day – drive to Johannesburg airport

**Highlights by Nicole

Interested in volunteering with these projects? Let us know and we will help you! Email [email protected].

Ongoing updates…

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