I went out on a limb and decided to volunteer for the Pre-Vet Wildlife Internship offered in Cinsta, Eastern Cape, South Africa for three months. I can easily say that it was the best experience of my entire life. I’ve learned a great deal working with wildlife, livestock and domestics. I’ve travelled to various game reserves to participate in hands-on game captures with zebra, giraffe, and antelope.
I’ve travelled to farms to work with livestock, injecting, de-horning, pregnancy testing and artificially inseminating. I spent a lot of time in the townships, getting to know the locals – dogs and children! It was refreshing to be in community that valued love and kindness over materialistic items. We dipped the dogs (and many puppies!) for fleas, ticks and mange, de-wormed, vaccinated, and injected antibiotics to treat illnesses and injuries.
I was nervous when I first arrived. Nervous that I wouldn’t meet people, and intimidated by others experience and my lack of. I now have a great amount of experience in working hands-on with these different types of animals and have gotten to know their temperaments. The people were fantastic. I’ve made life long friends and it felt as though I was living in a house with my family members.
The environment is comfortable and safe and it truly feels like home. Don’t be nervous about the social aspect – you make friends and form close relationships quickly, and get to know the locals by face within a couple of days. I had the chance to do hands-on work that I would not be qualified to do here in Canada or America and it was a very unique experience.
We were often on call for emergencies such as: dealing with a nyala with a mouth abscess, a baby bushbuck caught in a fence, a wild dog with an anal abscess, euthanizing a dog in the township, etc. Each day is unpredictable and with every day came a surprise. Yes, it was work all day, but some days were easier going than others.There were days we would get up at 2:00AM to visit a dairy farm, and some days that we would get home by 12:00 midnight due to a nightly game capture. However, there were also days that we would be up by 7:00am, and be home by 3:00pm, leaving us to do as we pleased for the remainder of the day. The beach was close by, there were small restaurants and bars walking distance away, and you were free to do as you wished. This is a project that leaves room for fun.
If you’re looking to have a great time with a balance of working and enjoying the nightlife, then Cinsta is the place to be. The program has given me more confidence in my choice of career in veterinary work and I could not be more grateful of the experience and the people that I now have in my life. You will have an experience of a lifetime volunteering in South Africa.