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Lilongwe Wildlife Internship

Price Malawi 2-12 Weeks
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Lilongwe Wildlife Internship


Work with Malawi’s first and only NGO wildlife sanctuary sanctioned by the government to conduct wildlife rescues nationwide, and the only sanctuary in the world to hold accreditations from the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance, the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) and the Born Free Foundation PAW scheme. Malawi has an incredible diversity of wild animals and habitats but is facing huge threats, from deforestation and pollution to poaching and climate change – this organizations mission is to save wildlife, campaign for conservation justice, and inspire people to value and protect nature in Malawi.

As Malawi’s first response for wild animals that are injured, orphaned, or rescued from the illegal wildlife trade, this sanctuary plays a vital role in the community. This placement will give you a real insight into sanctuary-based vet work. The specific tasks will vary according to the types of animals we are caring for at any particular time, but you can expect to get involved in a mix of clinical work and wider welfare activities, including enrichment, integrations, observations and animal husbandry.

Please note that our busiest period is during October to January each year, when we typically receive more orphaned animals.

2024 “Vet Experience” session: This once-a-year session (separate from the year-round placement) has been specifically designed for those students looking to gain experience and broaden their professional skills required for entering the professional vet field. Week 1 is spent at the local SPCA, where students will be exposed to surgery and clinical work. The clinic setting will involve sterilization of local pets, emergency care, intensive care, and vaccination programs. Students will not only participate in but also help to organize critical aspects such as spay drive clinics, donkey welfare clinics, and chicken health days, rabies vaccine drives, and farm clinics for local, small farmers. Week 2 is spent at Monkey Bay in a practical rural setting with no access to veterinary care. Animals that you will work with will include cattle, goats, sheep, dogs, pigs, rabbits, donkeys, cats, and chickens. Week 3 is also spent in Monkey Bay, but focuses on wildlife capture and relocation – You will gain knowledge in the subject of “game capture”, wildlife pharmacology and physiology, wildlife nutrition, and ecology. September/October 2024 – please contact us for more information about arrival and departure dates. 3- week session: $2400 USD.

2025 “Wildlife Veterinary Medicine Course”: working in collaboration with the SPCA, course participants spend 1 week learning about wildlife medicine with the sanctuary vet team, and 1 week learning about small (and some large/farm) animal medicine with the SPCA. 2025 rates and dates TBD.

***Rabies vaccine and negative TB test required***


2-week session: $2,000 USD

Each additional week: $600 USD

Wildlife Veterinary Medicine Course: TBD

  • Destination
  • Departure
    Mondays, Year-round
  • Departure Time
  • Return Time
    Pre-Vet Students | Vet Students
  • Dress Code
    Orientation, local SIM card and t-shirt provided on arrival. Training is provided for all activities. The program fee supports the sanctuary as well as activities, transportation and accommodation. Limited to 4 interns per session.
  • Included
    Airport Transfers
    Laundry Facilities
    On-Site Support
    Pre-Departure Support
  • Not Included
    Free-time Activities
    Travel Insurance
    Visa Fees (if applicable)
The veterinary component of the externship runs in the mornings, Tuesday to Friday (in addition to any emergencies that might arise). During these times interns will work under a veterinarian on a mix of activities including diagnostics, preventative health checks under sedation, parasite management and other treatment plans. The specific work will depend on the different animals we have in care at that time.
In the afternoons, interns learn vital skills in the rehabilitation and care of wildlife. This is important for wildlife vets to ensure that they can identify baseline health parameters for a range of species, identify behavioural change and pick up on sick and injured animals quickly. Tasks undertaken in the afternoons include basic husbandry, enrichment and integrations.

Tour Location

Our wildlife sanctuary is located within a 70-hectare nature reserve located in the middle of the capital city, Lilongwe. The nature reserve itself is home to wild animals such as antelopes, crocodiles, small carnivores and hyenas and over 100 bird species. There are 5km of walking trails running through the forest and along the Lingadzi River, and an on-site café which is a perfect space for a quiet moment of reading or studying. The Centre is just 10 minutes to town with its restaurants, shops and markets if you feel like a change of scene. The team are happy to organise movie nights and nights out.

Our volunteer house can host up to 17 people at a time across six bedrooms, with 2-4 beds per room and 2 bathrooms (a single supplement may be charged to secure a private room) - although the vet externship is limited to 4 per session, interns share accommodations with sanctuary volunteers. The house also includes a lounge, kitchen, inside and outside dining spaces, two bathrooms, laundry space, an outdoor deck and garden. WiFi and cleaning / laundry is provided. The building is located in the middle of the sanctuary, which means that you’ll experience the magic of bush life after a hard day of work – spending evenings by the fire listening to the sounds of the forest. Meals are included in the program fee and cooked by our on-site chef every day except on Sunday, when interns and volunteers are asked to cook for themselves (or enjoy leftovers!). Breakfast is continental and includes eggs, toast, cereal, fruit, and/or leftovers. The menu is vegetarian / vegan with a mix of international and local dishes. Let us know if you have other special dietary requirements.

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Animal/Vet Activities:

This placement is ideal for those looking to gain broad, real-world experience of sanctuary-based vet work. It is important to note that we are a wildlife sanctuary, rather than solely a vet clinic, which means that veterinary / clinical work is unlikely to take place every day. On the days when we don't have procedures, externs will participate in our animal care, orphan care, integrations, observations, and enrichment activities.
We do everything possible to give the animals that come into our care a fighting chance of being returned to the wild - where they belong. This means that we operate a hands-off policy with regards to our rehabilitation work, which means no direct contact with animals unless it’s required for veterinary or rehabilitation purposes. If you volunteer with us, you’ll be asked to get involved in real conservation tasks - in other words, work that actually makes a difference to the animals we protect. This might not always be glamourous (be prepared to get dirty!) but it’s work that needs to be done. This could involve anything from preparing food and enrichment activities to observing animal behaviours and gathering data. All of our projects tend to be small, which means that your involvement will have more of a direct impact.
We care for around 200 animals on any given day, the majority of which are primates. Every animal that comes into our care - whether as a result of abuse, illegal activity or human-wildlife conflict - receives a carefully tailored programme of support from our team of experts. We aim to release as many animals as possible back into the wild. Those that cannot be released are cared for in the safety of the sanctuary. Volunteering at the Centre will give you a powerful insight into the life-changing and life-saving work of wildlife rehabilitation.
You will spend the majority of your time with our dedicated animal care team, where work covers the whole spectrum of work to rehabilitate injured, orphaned and abused wild animals. Expect to get your hands dirty, work hard and sleep well! Animal rehabilitation is not always glamorous – think chopping food, cleaning enclosures and waking up at 3am to feed orphaned monkeys – but it’s work that makes a real difference. Duties include animal husbandry (cleaning, sanitation, feeding and enrichment), orphan care, observations and integrations. You’ll also get the chance to learn more about specialist areas of work such as enrichment, observation and rehabilitation techniques.

Daily rounds

Administration of daily treatment to chronic and new cases. Medication and dosages will be prescribed by the vet team. Reporting directly to the vet if animals are not taking the medication.
Reporting if there are any irregularities on patientbehaviour/demeanour or if there are any injuries.
Writing up medical records of active cases after rounds and discussion with the vet team.

Clinic time

Assisting with primate health checks including monitoring anaesthesia, drug administration, record keeping, sample collection and physical exams.
Assisting with triaging new intakes including history taking, visual exams, physical examinations, sample collection, diagnostics procedures, diagnosing patients, discussions with the vet team and admitting the new intakes and making a treatment plan.
Labs; necropsy on different species, faecal parasitology, bandaging, suture practice, medication techniques, darting techniques, bird exams and diagnostics.
Discussions on medical articles.
Continued treatment and care of admitted patients.
Cleaning clinic and equipment.

Orphan care

Feeding orphan animals.
Cleaning orphan care and equipment.
Babysitting orphaned animals.
Recording feeding patterns of orphan animals and reporting to orphan care coordinator and vet team.
Enrichment for animals in care.
Assisting with integrations of animals into a troop and or a family.

Animal care

Feeding resident animals such as monkeys and servals.
Cleaning animal enclosures with the team.
Reporting feeding irregularities and injuries in primate troops.
Wildlife Veterinary Medicine Course: Under the instruction of our veterinary team, you’ll be taught through both lectures and wet labs. You’ll have a chance to learn about parasitology, haematology, primate infectious and non-infectious diseases, emergency management, rehabilitation, pharmacology, medication, suture patterns in wildlife, remote capture systems, and key conservation issues. You’ll assist with our annual health monitoring programme for primates, which includes physical exams, patient monitoring, and sample collection and analysis.
Typical Experience Hours Per Week:
  • Animal Experience: 30-40
  • Vet Experience: 20-30
  • Clinical Experience: 10-20
  • Surgical Experience: 0

Free-Time Activities:

From the vast expanse of Lake Malawi - with its white-sand beaches and colourful cichlid fish - to the rolling grasslands of Nyika Plateau and the stunning peaks of Mount Mulanje, Malawi is one of Africa’s best-kept travel secrets. Although it may not be as well known as some of its Southern African neighbours, Malawi offers the chance to experience nature in unspoilt areas of true wilderness. It is also renowned as one of the safest countries to travel in Africa. Working hours are dependent on the animals we are looking after at the time and on the level of care they need. Interns generally work from 8am - 5pm, but during orphan season feeds may be scheduled during less sociable hours, so occasionally there can be long days and night shifts. However if this is unsuitable for you the team can re-arrange your schedule. Interns get two days off each week and there are so many amazing places to see around the country should you want to travel. On-site activities for evening free-time activities include traditional dances, movie nights, acapella nights, and game nights.
       Malawi Accommodations - Global Vet Experience    

Please submit an application for this program below. Our team will contact you with more information within 72 hours- if you don’t hear from us, please check your spam folder!