South Africa offers a diverse range of veterinary and wildlife science safari options where tourists can get a rare and unique hands-on conservation opportunity. Typically, tourists can participate in wildlife immobilisation procedures, or a species specific interactive safari that takes you on a behind the scenes look into the world of conservation.
Proceeds from the tourists' fees are paid over to the wildlife reserve / conservation body to cover the costs of the procedures, and in so doing, eco tourists are contributing directly to the conservation and successful management of the wildlife in South Africa.
On a scientific safari you can gain an insight into the magical world of conservation and wildlife rehabilitation by working closely with wildlife Veterinarians, wildlife science researchers, field officers and game rangers.
Immobilisation Safaris incorporate wildlife immobilisations that are carried out for conservation based research or management procedures, on a host of species. You can get your hands dirty while assisting the wildlife scientist, researcher or veterinarian, or simply watch the procedures from up close.
As an alternative to immobilisation safaris, you can participate in conservation activities involving your chosen species of wildlife, as well as general game viewing. You can work closely with wildlife Veterinarians, wildlife science researchers, field officers and game rangers. With a scientific safari you can gain an insight into the magical world of wildlife.
A typical scientific safari example would be: tracking lion from the air in a micro-light aircraft, or monitoring wild dogs around their den or using telemetry to track your chosen species in the bush, the continuous beep from the tracking collar bringing you slowly closer... an exhilarating adventure that will remain with you for life!
Species specific science safaris give guests the opportunity to focus on a particular species of their choice and get to know it inside out, while still enjoying general game (wildlife) viewing and participating in unusual activities involving your species of choice!
Species specific science safaris often start in a controlled environment such as a wildlife rehabilitation centre (for example the De Wild Wild Dog Project), which allows time to observe animal characteristics and behaviour from up close while getting to know your favourite wildlife species.
There is often the opportunity to participate in an immobilisation procedure during this time, if any routine management procedures need to be carried out -- as a travel writer, I have watched many immobilisation procedure because I 'happened' to be nearby when the need arose!
Typically, Science Safaris then move to a more remote reserve where tourists can interact with wildlife scientists and field researchers to learn more about our chosen species and its adaptations in the particular wildlife sanctuary we are working in. Eco tourists can participate in "unusual" activities involving their chosen species, such as tracking exercises using tracking equipment (Telemetry), or even tracking collared animals from the air in a 2-seater microlight aircraft. As always, activities are optional and eco tourists have a choice as to how hands-on they wish to be.
Various species such as rhino, leopard, elephant, lion, and many more, that need darting for management or conservation reasons such as pregnancy monitoring or contraception, health checks, transmitter implants or collar fitment, are darted by a wildlife Veterinarian in order for the procedure to be carried out.
Clients are given the opportunity to participate in the procedure being carried out once the animal is tranquillised and it is safe to move closer. Depending on the species and procedure involved, clients will have the option of a hands-on approach, or, if they prefer, simply observing from up close and getting those pictures of a lifetime! Feel the inch thick skin of a rhino, or the hair on the tail of an elephant…