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I don’t have a lot of animal or veterinary experience, can I still take part on the project?
No experience is required- the programme accepts people from all backgrounds; including vet students, pre-vet undergraduates, students on a gap year, high school students, or anyone who just loves animals! There is also no age limit. This programme is designed to give participants a hands-on veterinary experience that they might not get in their home country, whether it be to build up a CV, to decide if veterinary medicine is the right path, or just to experience the wildlife of Africa while helping animals in need!
What does my programme fee include?
The programme fee includes accommodation, all food, transfers to and from East London airport, all programme activities, and transportation while on the project.
How do I get to the project?
A staff member from the project will be waiting for you when you arrive at East London Airport. They will provide a transfer to your accommodation in Chintsa East.
When is the best time of year to attend?
The programme runs from 17th January - 19th December each year, with a small break over Christmas.
What is the best length of time to join the programme for?
You can stay from a minimum time of two weeks. As a general rule, the longer you can stay the more you will get out of the programme; all of our work is dependent on what is available at the time so the longer you stay the more varied your experience will be. For periods longer than 3 months please check visa requirements for volunteers and plan early.
What is the project accommodation like?
You will be staying at Buccaneers Backpackers in Cintsa - a small, friendly village on the beach. The accomodation is both safe and comfortable. The accommodation includes a kitchenette and bathroom facilities. Although you will be based in Chintsa, our work involves travelling to a different location each day, so you will see a lot of the Eastern Cape!
How many people sleep in a room?
This depends on how busy the programme is, but expect 2-6 people in one room.
Will there be a possibility to go shopping (for snacks, toiletries, etc) while on the programme?
All meals are included in the programme fee but if you do need anything extra there are shops nearby. There is a small shop that sells basic snacks and toiletries within Cintsa. Larger shop visits usually occur when it is convenient based on where you are travelling to each day – the more notice you give the staff the better so they can plan ahead for you.
What animals might I work with on the project?
This varies from week to week. Expect to work with dogs in the townships once a week. Farm work may include cattle, pigs and sheep. Our game captures mainly consist of antelope species but we have also worked with zebra, giraffe, buffalo, rhino and lions over the last few years. The game capture aspect of the programme very much depends on what species of animals need moving at the time.
What do I do on the weekends?
Weekends are free time! Staff are happy to help you plan and book any activities or tours - local activities available to you include surf lessons, horseback riding on the beach, elephant walks, cheetah encounters and quad-biking through a game reserve. Or you can relax on the beach, visit a restaurant or drink at one of the bars! Ciintsa is a very safe village, so you are free to come and go as you please.
Participants can also plan a weekend away- popular destinations include Cape Town, Addo Elephant Park and Hogsback.
Please note that although staff are usually willing to help they need a few days notice and you may need to arrange your own transport at weekends as staff need days off too!
When do we work, and how long for?
Like most work with animals this largely depends on the activities available that day. We generally work Monday-Friday. Hours vary a lot so be prepared for anything!
What will I be doing?
This programme offers hands-on experience with small animals, farm animals, and wildlife. The goal of the program is to provide veterinary care to animals that would otherwise have none, as well as to provide students with hands-on veterinary experience.
The wildlife element is mainly game capture - the immobilization and transportation of wild game, usually during relocation. Occasionally, we will dart an animal to check or treat an injury. Participants help to monitor vitals, inject medication, and physically transport the animal.
Work with farm animals is focused on showing students exactly what it means to be a vet. Farm work may include basic handling and husbandry, artificial insemination of pigs and cows, injecting, dipping and dosing large animals, pregnancy testing, sponging sheep and lambing.
Our small animal component is also our community work section of the program- our goal is to create a healthier and more comfortable population of animals in the local villages by providing basic care. We focus on preventative measures against fleas, ticks and mange as these are big problems. We also do our best to treat wounds.
Will there be internet?
Wi-fi will be available at the accommodation, however 'This Is Africa' and we cannot always guarantee the wi-fi working smoothly!
Can I do laundry while on the project?
Yes you can, there is a laundry service at the accommodation at a fee of around $4-$5 per load.
Do I need any vaccinations or anti-malarial medication?
The Eastern Cape is a malaria free zone, so anti-malarial medication is not required.
Regarding vaccinations prior to travelling. you will need to ask your doctor as this varies from country to country. We strongly recommend you get any vaccinations advised by your doctor. Due to working closely we animals we also strongly recommend a full course of rabies vaccinations.
What should I pack?
See below for a suggested packing list.
Suggested Packing List
You should pack the following for all weather conditions:
•Sweaters/jumpers and a jacket (that can get dirty)
•Work shoes (boots or sneakers that can get dirty)
• Work tops (tank tops or t-shirts that can get dirty)
•Work pants (shorts and long pants that can get dirty)
•A few weekend day outfits (for weekend activities)
• A few weekend night outfits (for the occasional evening out at local bars)
• Warm night clothes
• Swimwear + beach clothes
• Camera and charger
• Backpack or small bag for overnight trips
• South African/International power plug converter/adapter
• Insect Repellent
Notepad/diary and pen
Keep in mind that you will often be working on farms and game reserves and will have direct contact with a variety of animals. You should be prepared to get your clothes dirty and they should be comfortable and easy to move in.
It is important to take extra of all medications & prescriptions.
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