Wildlife Conservation

Earn 6 credits from the North West University, South Africa

Scheduled Dates

WC02: 27 Dec. 2020– 17 Jan. 2021
WC01: 20 June- 11 July 2021
WC02: 28 Dec. 2021 – 18 Jan.  2022

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Application Form

 Join us for an experience of a lifetime on this field study program in South Africa:

  • Experience hands-on wildlife veterinary and conservation.
  • Meet and interact with conservationists and wildlife veterinarians in the field.
  • Learn about the crucial balance of people and wildlife in conservation today.
  • Gain hands-on experience by taking part in game capture operations.
  • Earn 6 credits and receive a ceertificatee from the North West University, South Africa.

About the Program

The wildlife conservation field study program offers an exciting, hands-on, in-depth and educational experience, taking students behind-the-scenes in the wildlife field in Southern Africa. The expeditions are in the form of a camping safari and lodging, and the duration is around 3 weeks. Students interact with rangers, veterinarians and researchers working in the field, giving them an insight into life, successes and problems associated with conservation in Africa today. Participants also meet and learn from pioneers in game capture and those actively involved in the field of wildlife veterinary science on a day-to-day basis.  The program includes a Capture and Care course where students participate in actual game capture operations.

This program has been offered for international students since 1999. It is tailor-made and open to students in wildlife management, biological sciences, natural resources or related field currently enrolled at a recognized tertiary educational institution. The program is also open to qualified professionals and other interested persons.

Course Content:

  • Capture, Care & Transportation of wild animals
  • Ecosystem and Biodiversity Conservation
  • Wildlife Veterinary Science
  • Wildlife Diseases and Medicine

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival

Students arrive and are welcomed at OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg, by EcoLife guides and representatives.  You are transferred to your lodge close to the airport.
Accommodation: Lodge

Day 2: North West University

We drive to the campus of the North West University in the town of Potchefstroom. Here we attend a lecture workshop on a variety of wildlife conservation subjects.  Late afternoon, we return to the lodge close to the airport for the night.
Accommodation: Lodge

Day 3: Drive to Kruger National Park

After an early breakfast, we start our journey east to the Kruger National Park to arrive in the late afternoon and set up camp. Park facilities include public telephones, a bank, a shop, restaurants and a laundry.
Accommodation: Camping

Day 4 – 6: Kruger National Park

Kruger Park with it’s high biodiversity is the ideal environment for observing and studying most of the wildlife species found in southern Africa. The morning will be spent with an ecologist to learn more about the ecology, park management and special wildlife conservation programs. The park will be explored by bus under the guidance of a guide to experience the magnificent wildlife.
Accommodation: Camping

Days 7 : Drive to Wildlife Research Center

After a morning of game viewing, we exit the park and drive to the Hoheisen Wildlife Research Center.
Accommodation: Chalets

Days 8: Wildlife Diseases

As a veterinarian it is important to learn about the different diseases that wildlife can contract and how to identify the symptoms by studying the behavior, movement and appearance of animals. We spend the day with a local veterinarian learning more about the wildlife diseases.
Accommodations: Chalets

Day 9: Drive to Balule Game Reserve

Today we drive further north to the magnificent Balule Game Reserve which borders the Kruger Park. Here we check in to a tented bush camp.

Day 10 & 11: Ecology

We spend 2 days exploring the bush on foot and game drive vehicle, under the guidance of the reserve guides. We will also learn more about a variety of wildlife conservation issues through lectures.
Accommodation: Tented Bush Camp

Days 12: Drive to Leeudraai Nature Reserve

After breakfast we travel  to the Leeudraai Nature Reserve where we check in for 3 nights.
Accommodation: Chalets

Day 13 & 14: Ecology

We spend two days exploring the banks of the Limpopo River with an experienced guide. We have the chance to test our knowledge on animal tracks, plant and animal identification with a local guide. Our guide is actively involved with pangolin research and will take us in to the bush to try and track a pangolin down.
Accommodation: Chalets

Day 15: Drive to Hoedspruit

We drive to the scenic Lowveld town of Hoedspruit. Here we set up camp at a resort in the area, located a short distance from the Hoedspruit.
Accommodation: Camping

Day 16: Reptile Center

We spend the day at a reptile center nearby with a wide variety of snakes, reptiles and spiders. The handling of these species will be demonstrated and those who wish to, will have the chance to interact and handle them. Our visit will include a snake necropsy.
Accommodation: Camping

Days 17 – 20: Hands-on Game Capture Course

The successful capture, handling and translocation of wildlife all form important parts of the wildlife veterinarian’s program. The next 4 days are dedicated to observing and learning about and participating in actual game capture operations under the guidance of a wildlife capture expert. No animals are being caught purely for demonstration purposes but form part of the daily routine. (The region in which the game capture will take place will differ from group to group.)
Accommodation: Camping

 Day 21: Helicopter Darting Practice 

We will, subject to the weather, take part in a mock darting exercise from a helicopter in flight. At the last evening we will enjoy our a farewell dinner and take part in our graduation ceremony.
Accommodation: Camping

Day 22: Departure
We depart for Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport, in time for your flight home. The group will be dropped off at the airport in the early afternoon. Note: Most flights to the USA, Europe and Australia depart in the early evening.

Note: You will meet a number of wildlife veterinarians and  field biologists who service different areas within South Africa. Each program is different and the wildlife species they work on will differ for every program. Game capture activities are not done as exhibits or demonstrations. We team up with wildlife veterinarians and specialists that need to capture an animal for the purpose of treatment, collaring, health check or relocation. These can be in the form of an emergency call out due to an animal in distress. Therefore, we cannot always predict ahead of time, what will be immobilized or exactly where or how long it will take. Activities can be influenced by weather, topography of the terrain, density of the bush and presence of other species that might be a safety issue. Working with wildlife is always unpredictable. The duration of any of the activities cannot be pre-determined. Usually more time will be allocated to an activity to allow for any delays, which might occur. Should an activity go without hiccup, work could be completed early, which could cause some downtime in the program. This is unavoidable, but we will endeavor to try and fill days, where too much downtime occur

Cost per person sharing:
US $4,980 (2020 & 2021)        No price increase for 2021

Price Includes:

  • Airport transfers as stated
  • Accommodation for the duration of the program
  • Transportation for the duration of the program
  • Short helicopter ride (weather permitting)
  • Elephant ride
  • Permits and entry fees
  • All meals and group activities

Price Excludes:

  • Air travel to and from South Africa
  • Visa costs (not required by US citizens)
  • Vaccinations
  • Optional activities
  • Alcoholic beverages

Application Process and Payments

  • Undergraduate and graduate students in wildlife science, ecology, natural resources, veterinary science, pre-vet and veterinary technology and related fields, as well as persons interested in wildlife are encouraged to apply.
  • Students with any combination of courses taken, grade level or academic year, are encouraged to apply.
  • Eko Tracks does not offer scholarships or financial aid for these programs. Students should contact their study abroad office or financial aid office for assistance or advise about funding.
  • There is no specific application date. However, the earlier you apply the better your chance of booking a trip that suits your time schedule.
  • Trip dates are fixed. The trip of your first choice and an alternative date, a trip of your second choice must be indicated on the application form.
  • To apply, complete the application form online or mail it to the office of Eko Tracks.
  • Once we have received your application form, you will be pre-booked and be sent a registration form and the payment policy.
  • The registration form and a 25% deposit must be sent directly to the office in South Africa to secure your booking. Note: Payments can be made via PayPal or money can be transferred (wired) overseas through a bank.
  • The office of Eko Tracks will send you a field preparation guide with information about the passport, flight schedules, vaccinations, packing list and safety tips to assist you in preparing for the trip.
  • Your pre-departure form and the outstanding amount must be sent to the office in Pretoria at the latest 2 months prior to the start of the program.