Eligibility requirement: Suitable for pre-vet students. Relevant scientific studies for this course may include biology, physiology and anatomy, math, chemistry, animal science, microbiology, etc. A love for nature and wildlife is a must, with a desire to make a difference in conservation.

Associated career paths: Veterinary Surgeons, Veterinary Nurses, Environmental Scientists, Biologists, Animal Behaviourists.

Minimum duration: 2 week course only. Available start date for 2021 is Friday May 28th.

Internship details

The Wildlife Veterinary Internship course at Gondwana Game Reserve, South Africa, includes educational activities designed to answer a set of behavioural ecology questions, relevant to the long-term applied research of the reserve.

The course follows a set program with experienced staff, veterinarians and PhD academic support. While it is important to note that activities during the two-week specialized course may change (subject to local conditions) the priorities of the veterinarian work include: Fitting GPS-enabled tracking bracelets to continually monitor feeding behavior of animals around the reserve, taking blood samples to assess health markers and macro-nutrient concentrations in large herbivores and other species that populate the game reserve.

Interns can expect to be involved in fieldwork, assessing vegetation and grazing impact, and large mammal surveys around the entire reserve, which analyse animal spatial use and habitat preference. During the stay, accommodation is provided in semi-luxury safari tents, within the Gondwana Game Reserve.

Please note that this exclusive veterinarian course is a two-week internship experience only. Spaces are limited and advance reservations are required.

Intern review: Sarah Leaman

South Africa - Reserve Management at Dinokeng Game Reserve

"Once winter break commenced, I happily packed my backpack (binoculars included) after my last final exam of fall semester, headed to the airport, and thirty-some hours later (San Diego to Johannesburg) landed in South Africa. There I interned at Dinokeng Game Reserve focusing on a comprehensive understanding of wildlife conservation. I chose this specific internship provided by IAHQ because it aligned perfectly with my particular career goal and path. I am extremely passionate about wildlife and consequently the conservation of wildlife. While there, I learned so much about strategies and practices, and so many valuable skills to address and improve the dilemma of the rise of endangered species and extinction epidemic. The skills I was so grateful to learn and improve on consisted of learning all about savannah ecology, animal behavior, GPS, GIS, and other navigational skills, biodiversity survey techniques, habitat assessments, bird point counts, monitoring the range and activity of wildlife species, and ways in which to mitigate human to wildlife conflict. Everyday started in the early morning just before the sun came up as many of the bird species started to come out and ended just after the sun would set as many of the other native species are crepuscular, mostly active in the cooler temperatures of dawn and dusk. It was truly a beautiful, wild, and wonderful time that I will forever cherish."

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Program fees

Internship Duration Program Fee (USD)
2 weeks $2698

Please note that program fees for all South Africa Environmental internships include return transportation to the airport. This transportation service is scheduled on specific dates and times. To ensure the schedule works for you, check with your Internships Manager for details before booking your departure flights.

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  • All Intern Abroad programs attract a Registration Fee of US$299 in addition to the Program Fee.
  • All payments attract a 5% transaction fee to cover international banking fees and currency charges. International wire transfer payments attract a minimum fee of US$75.
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What extra costs will I have?

  • Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check.
  • Souvenirs + tourism/leisure activities during free time.
  • Personal spending money to cover basic expenses such as drinks, snacks, laundry, and public transportation. Interns generally find US$50 per week to be sufficient.

Registration fee

What it covers
  • Dedicated intern support
  • Personalized internship abroad plan
  • International internship reference
  • Experiential learning curriculum
  • Affordable internship fees
  • Flexible booking options

Program fee

What it covers
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • Airport pick-up and return
  • Program orientation
  • Internship placement
  • Learning support service
  • Accommodation & meals

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Arrival and Orientation

Once interns have arrived at their accommodation and the internship site - after having received the airport pick up - there is time for introductions and settling in, which is followed by orientation. Orientation covers important details concerning schedule, support, safety, program rules and expectations, and more.

Return transportation is provided for all interns, according to a set schedule. All interns are advised not to book their flights until they have first confirmed their participation and received further guidance on making travel arrangements.

The Wildlife Veterinary Course at Gondwana Game Reserve is an exclusive two-week course beginning on Friday June 12th, 2020. All participants fly into the Cape Town International Airport (CPT), in order to receive their airport pick up on Friday June 12th and be transported to the accommodation and internship site at Gondwana Game Reserve. Arrivals will be transported as one group to Gondwana Game Reserve, departing the CPT airport in the morning. Transportation time from the CPT airport to the Reserve is approximately four hours. There is a stop for lunch en route and interns arrive at Gondwana Game Reserve in the afternoon.


Accommodation is in an established research camp within the Gondwana Game Reserve. Interns are accommodated in shared safari tents (two people per tent) on raised platforms. Each tent is equipped with beds, an overhead light, bedside tables and lamps, cupboards and USB charging stations. Please note that as these run on solar power with a backup generator and the charging of electronics will be in rotation. Common areas include a fully equipped lecture/lounge tent with power, tables and chairs, comfy couches, and a library of guide books, scientific readings, maps and equipment. Bathroom tents, each equipped with a gas hot-water shower, toilet and basin are located on site. Each unit will be shared by two to four people. Please bring your own towels and toiletries. Supplies for hand-washing are supplied and there is a weekly laundry service which will collect, wash, and iron your laundry at your own cost. Wi-Fi will be available to use in camp.

On all of the Environmental Internships, the local team stay on-site in order to provide supervision and support. This provides an ideal opportunity for interns to gain firsthand knowledge from experienced staff about the challenges and rewards of living and working in Africa reserve areas. Interns are required to share accommodation (same sex sharing cannot be guaranteed) and private rooms are not available. Interns are also responsible for daily cleaning of their own living space. As everyone on reserve camps live together in a group environment, interns are expected to maintain cordial relationships with fellow program participants and reserve staff.

Accommodation camps have a desktop computer onsite (used for data entry), that can be used by arrangement with the Camp Manager to send basic emails. However, is highly recommended that interns bring their own mobile phones and then purchase a “pay as you go” SIM card and airtime vouchers (available from local stores and airports) as a means to stay in touch with family and friends. Data charges are very reasonable and MTN and Vodacom are preferred network suppliers. Cell phone signal is typically good but can sometimes be intermittent. There is electricity available at all of the program accommodation camps, so mobile phones, cameras, iPods and laptops can be easily charged.


On the Environmental Internships, all meals are prepared by interns themselves from the groceries and food provided by our local team (the program fee covers the cost of the food). Interns will be scheduled to assist with cooking and cleaning duties as a group effort during their stay and this schedule, along with any other important camp duties, are typically coordinated at the program orientation. For interns participating on the Sodwana Bay Marine National Park internship program, packed lunches may sometimes be made in advance and brought down to the beach.

Vegetarian and other dietary requirements must be communicated in advance, so that we can cater for any special meals. Note that there is an additional weekly surcharge if a gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian or vegan diet is requested. This is in order to provide speciality grocery items, which are often more expensive in South Africa (i.e. soy milk, gluten free bread/pasta, protein supplements, etc). The extra cost is US$30 per week if a gluten-free, dairy-free, or vegan diet is required. For vegetarian diets, the surcharge is US$20 per week. This amount will be included in the internship Program Fee quoted to you by Intern Abroad HQ when you apply.

As part of the Wildlife Veterinary course, all meals are prepared by an on-site cook, and includes a continental breakfast, lunch (either in camp or in the field), and dinner. Fresh fruit and snacks are also provided throughout the day. Our local team can cater for most allergies and diets, be they vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, so please inform us if you have particular dietary requirements.

Activities and tourism

It is important to know that South African Environmental internship programs are located in rural areas, where there are limited social activities and attractions. Distances between towns are great and public transport is very limited. The typical work schedules on these programs keep interns pretty busy throughout the week - and sometimes over the weekends too - but shorter work days can sometimes occur if weather conditions are not suitable for various activities. We recommend that interns bring ample reading material, card / board games, iPods, and similar personal entertainment items, for periods when there is “downtime”. If you feel the need to be in or near a big city, then these programs might not be for you. But if you have a passion for the great outdoors, you’ll have the experience of a lifetime!

The Wildlife Veterinary internship is an intensive two-week course. Interns will spend this period performing various tasks related to the program. However, this doesn’t mean that before or after you’ve concluded the activities, you can’t enjoy some of what the Western Cape province and wider South Africa has to offer. There will be a free day off during the mid point of the program where you can opt for one of several excursions to local cultural and historical sites. These include commercial ostrich farms, shark-cage diving, a visit to the Diaz museum, or a trip to the famous Mossel Bay beach. Or, if you wish, you can spend the day relaxing in camp, catching up with reading or going for a hike in the non-Big-5 section of the reserve.

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Country profile

Capital Pretoria (Executive), Bloemfontein (Judicial), Cape Town (Legislative)
Population 55.91 million
Languages Afrikaans, English, Zulu, Xhosa, Swati, Tswana
Currency South African Rand (ZAR)
Time zone UTC+02:00

Weather and climate: South Africa is generally temperate, however due to varied topography and oceanic influence, a great variety of climatic zones exist. This ranges from the extreme desert of the Namib (northwest South Africa), to the subtropical climate along the Mozambique border and the Indian Ocean (eastern South Africa).

The Gondwana Game Reserve is located on the Western Cape, near the coastal town of Mossel Bay. The climate typically has average temperatures of around 55°F (13°C) in winter and 66°F (19°C) in summer. During the winter months (including June) there can be regular rain and wind. Wind-chill can make the environment feel quite cold, so warm and waterproof clothing is essential.