Veterinary nursing students visit South Africa

July 2019

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Seven of Writtle University College’s veterinary nursing students are about to embark on a trip of a lifetime. On July 21st, they will fly to Welgevonden Game Reserve in South Africa for two weeks of hands-on work experience.

The 36,000ha private game reserve is located in the Waterberg District, of the Limpopo Province. It is home to 50 mammal species, including the famous Big Five (the lion, elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros). It also features rare, unusual species such as the cheetah, brown hyaena, caracal, aardwolf and aardvark.

The reserve is committed to ongoing conservation research and development. During their two weeks at Welgevonden, WUC’s veterinary nursing students will gain practical experience in the wildlife field.

They will work directly with the conservation and research team; the department that runs and manages the day to day decisions and monitoring of the wildlife and eco system of the reserve.

Two WUC staff members will accompany the students. Course manager Victoria Salvage comments: “It’s a privilege to take these veterinary nursing students to stay at Welgevonden Game Reserve. It’s an amazing learning experience for them and they get to discover how veterinary work is carried out in the field.

“Last year the students were able to monitor a rhino under anaesthesia in the field and helped the veterinary team manage a bite wound on a lion. I’m looking forward to what awaits us!”

This year’s team hopes to work with local wildlife vets and specialists, including Dr Peter Caldwell, a world famous vet known for his care of Rhinos. With luck, the students will assist with darting, DNA sampling and ear tagging.

Other veterinary activities vary depending on time of year and the needs and requirements of the reserve. The trip will include informative lectures from specialists in the conservation and wildlife field, as well as veterinary surgeons.

Student, Felicity Bradbeer, said: “I am excited to go to South Africa to experience a different way of living. I’m already feeling emotional about seeing an elephant!”

Laura Stokes added: “I can’t wait to see the animals in their own environment, especially the rhinos. I’m also looking forward to camping and trying new foods.”