Projects Abroad | Veterinary Medicine

Malawi: Veterinary Internship

Lilongwe, Malawi


Location: Lilongwe, Malawi

Duration: Minimum 1 week, maximum 12 weeks commitment

Start Dates: Externship is ongoing and starts each Tuesday. The Vet course will run on July 24-31 and July 31-Aug 7 – 2018.

Cost: from £1,000 GBP

Includes: all food, accommodation, airport pickup, orientation and all project related activities

Does not Include: Flights, travel insurance, visas and vaccinations


  • Gain hands-on experience in veterinary medicine with exotic species in the field and clinic
  • Clinical projects, support, Rescue & Rehabilitation, Orphan care and Research Opportunities
  • Ideal for qualified vets, vet nurses, students of veterinary medicine as well as volunteer opportunities for pre-vet students
  • Keywords: veterinary science, biology, serious internship, flexible placement, Malawi
Costs Explained


Malawi has many amazing things to offer, such as very friendly people, amazing scenery and beautiful flora and fauna, however it is also unfortunately a place of great poverty, deforestation, wildlife crime and a degrading environment. This project was set up in 2008 as the only wildlife sanctuary, and has evolved into Malawi’s leading charity, addressing both issues of social welfare and environmental conservation. The project is a member of the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), Malawi’s representative for the Species Survival Network and a founding member of the Malawi chapter of the International Conservation Caucus Foundation.

We are a registered Malawian NGO founded in 2009. We accept interns and volunteers from all nationalities to help us achieve our goals, learn from our experts in the field and share your knowledge and skills. We have had previous participants become permanent members of our team, so who knows where your placement will lead!

Daily Life

Our veterinary programme has been specifically designed with vet students, nurses and professionals in mind. You will gain experience working on ongoing wildlife conservation and veterinary medicine projects.

The Wildlife Centre is one of the most respected sanctuaries in Africa and the only sanctuary in the world to have obtained all three accreditations from Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA), Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) and Born Free Foundation’s PAW scheme, meaning you can be sure to learn ‘best practice’ during your time with us. Given that veterinary work in any working sanctuary is always dependent on what cases arrive day-to-day, you can be sure there is always plenty to do between clinical work!

You will also get the chance to contribute to an important body of clinical research in addition to splitting your time between the sanctuary and ‘bush’. Our intensive vet course is the perfect for those looking for intensive hands-on learning.

The team is headed up by fully qualified veterinarian, Dr Amanda Salb, who has been practicing for the past seven years in zoo/exotic animal practice before joining us as the sanctuary veterinarian. She has since set up the conservation medicine programmes and runs Malawi’s Wildlife Emergency Response Unit (WERU), a joint government initiative. Amanda is the only veterinarian in Malawi trained in game capture. Dr Alice Dumoulin, from France, joined as on-site sanctuary veterinarian in 2017 working alongside our vet nurse, Cynthia Polella. Thanks to our strong network or supporting partners, the team can also call on a wealth of international veterinary support when needed.

Book with Confidence


Clinical Projects

Our Clinical Projects initiative was launched in 2017. This project is currently operating out of Kuti Wildlife Reserve, with some contributing research conducted from other sites, including the Wildlife Centre and Vwaza Wildlife Reserve.

The first phase of this project involves wildlife health surveillance and veterinary outreach in the villages surrounding the Kuti, focusing on:

  • Zoonotic fecal pathogens in monkeys around the reserve
  • Fecal pathogens in hoofstock, with special attention to helminths
    affecting production in domestic livestock and body condition in
    wild hoofstock
  • Rodent vectors for selected bacterial infections
  • Fecal helminths in domestic dogs in villages around the reserve,
    especially those with zoonotic potential

Apart from the learning opportunities and the chance to spend time in both a sanctuary and ‘bush’ environment, you will also be contribute to an important body of research: the initiative is a first for Malawi and the results will ultimately be utilised by the three Government departments of National Parks and Wildlife, Animal Health and Livestock and (human) Health.

Rescue & Rehabilitation

Externs work across all aspects of the rehabilitation process from animal husbandry (feeding, cleaning, etc) to integrations, observations and reintroductions. Immersing yourself in the wider operations of a busy wildlife sanctuary (last year, there were 89 rescues, 286 animals under rehabilitation, 190 veterinary procedures and a total of 67 animals released) is invaluable experience for understanding the role of the veterinary professionals within that working environment.
Clinical support

Wildlife sanctuary vet work is by its very nature more sporadic in comparison to a domestic animal surgery but, even with a full-time vet and vet nurse on-site, additional assistance has always been critical to the smooth running of the department. Externs assist the team in all aspects of veterinary care at the Wildlife Centre, ranging from incoming exams and emergency operations through to health checks and routine diagnostics.

Due to health and safety considerations, only staff members are cleared to work on the Wildlife Emergency Response Unit. Dr Salb is happy to share her experiences with you and hosts lectures and workshops wherever possible.

Orphan care

Since we aim to release as many animals as possible back into the wild, we operate a strict hands-off policy. That said, some orphans need special attention and round-the-clock care to ensure that they have the best possible chance of survival and rehabilitation, so you may well be stepping in with surrogacy work and providing all aspects of care in those early days.

It can be an incredibly rewarding experience to see animals progress and know that you have played a vital part in their journey back to where they belong.

Research & other learning opportunities

We’re keen to help our vet externs learn as much as they possibly can during their time with us and, where schedules permit, the team will often find time to squeeze in a lecture or lab. If this is something you are interested in, please ask the team about what they have planned when you arrive. We can also cater for a limited number of students each year who wish to conduct research specific to their studies. Please send us your research idea/proposal so we can look at whether we can accommodate you. sample collection and analysis.

Vet course

This is an intensive hands-on 7 day course. under the instruction of Malawi’s leading wildlife vet. You will be taught through both lectures and wet labs and get the opportunity to help out with our annual health monitoring programme which includes physical exams, patient monitoring and sample collection and analysis. The course is limited to 8 participants and is very popular so please book early.

Arrival, sanctuary orientation and introductions

Lectures & wet labs in parasitology, hematology & observations in primate infectious & non-infectious diseases, emergency management.

Primate health checks. Lecture/lab in avian exams &

Primate health checks. Lecture/lab in small mammal rehabilitation, pharmacology and medication techniques.

Primate health checks. Lecture/lab suture patterns in wildlife.

Lecture and practical lab in remote capture systems.
Travel to Wildlife Reserve. Game drive.

Conservation round table discussion. Game drive.
Return to Lilongwe, farewell supper.

Summary and departure.

The course is limited to 8 participants and is very popular so please book early.
Course dates are currently June 12-19 (full), July 24-31 and July 31-Aug 7, 2018.

Fundraising Help

Travel & Accommodation

The project is located in Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi, and is a 30 minute drive from the Lilongwe Kamuzu International Airport (airport code: LLW). You will be met at the airport by a project representative.

Volunteers who elect to spend time on the Clinical Projects in One Health programme will be based at Kuti Wildlife Reserve, with the possibility of spending some time at Vwaza Research Camp in the Northern Region.

Your accommodation (see below) is right in the middle of the sanctuary and you will be surrounded by our animals, so you’ll wake up to monkeys and baboons playing outside your bedroom window!

The 200 hectare wilderness reserve includes a river, woods and 4 km of walking/running trails, meaning you can experience the wild side of Africa and yet you are still close enough to the city to enjoy some of the benefits of civilisation.

You have the following accommodations options to choose from.

Main House
The programme is limited to a maximum of 13 volunteers at any one time. The main house has basic mixed dorm-style accommodation sleeping 10 with electricity, a kitchen, lounge area, bathroom and hot showers. We also have an attractive garden area for relaxing in the evenings and on your day off. We employ a cleaner too so you don’t have to worry about washing your sheets on your day off.

You can also upgrade to the chalet if you want a bit more of your own space. We have a two bed and a four bed chalet, both en-suite. It is right next to the volunteer house so you will still have the chance to eat and socialise with the other volunteers.

Meals are cooked by our local chef every day except on Sunday when extra food is provided. The menu is vegetarian with a mix of international and local dishes (Joseph is more than happy to show you how to make). Let us know if you have other special dietary requirements and we will let you know if we can accommodate them, and you are welcome to buy in other luxuries or meat if they wish.

Working Hours
Working hours are dependent on the animals we have in at the time and on the level of care they need. Ideally, volunteers will work from 8am till 5pm, but during orphan season feeds will be scheduled during unsocial hours. We try our best to split this up between volunteers but please be aware that there may be some long days or even some night shifts.

Kuti Wildlife Reserve
Basic shared accommodation, with solar power and hot water available in the mornings and evenings. You can also upgrade to private accommodation. Volunteers and students will stay in large shared tents in the research camp. As you would expect from a bush camp, it’s a lot more basic than the Wildlife Centre. There is an ablutions block, kitchen and dining area in the camp. There is also storage space, lab, office, and teaching space. Solar power is available and meals are all vegetarian.

Premium Support Upgrade


  • Minimum age 18.
  • Minimum 1 week commitment (this is for the course, 2 weeks minimum for the externship).
  • Relevant academic background, i.e. pre-vet or vet student or veterinary professional.
  • Basic English language skills.
  • Necessary vaccinations – we require a negative TB test and rabies vaccinations are strongly advised
  • Necessary flight & visas.
  • Full travel & medical insurance – full assistance provided in arranging everything you will need if you choose our Premium Support



1 week 2 weeks 3 weeks 4 weeks 5 weeks 6 weeks
Vet Externship £1,370 £1,775 £2,235 £2,575 £2,885
Incl. Vet Course £1,000 £1,670 £2,075 £2,535 £2,875 £3,185
7 weeks 8 weeks 9 weeks 10 weeks 11 weeks 12 weeks
£3,180 £3,450 £3,705 £3,930 £4,150 £4,350
£3,480 £3,750 £4,005 £4,230 £4,450 £4,650

* Currency is in GBP, check for other currency conversions
** All payments incur a 5% bank transfer fee
*** Places are confirmed with a 15% deposit. Balance is due 2 months prior to your arrival

What’s Included:

Project Fee includes

  • Accommodation
  • All meals and unlimited tea, coffee and drinking water
  • Airport Transfers and all work related transport
  • WiFi, T-shirt and local SIM card (please bring an unlocked phone)
  • Training in all relevant departments, plus full support from the Volunteer Coordinator during your stay.
What’s not included:
  • Flights
  • Vaccinations, travel and medical insurance (we require a negative TB test and strongly recommend rabies vaccinations)
  • Visa ($75 single entry 30 day visa, plus extensions every 30 days = $10)
  • Additional excursion, nights out, souvenirs and personal expenses such as soft drinks, beers, snacks.

All placements start and end on a Tuesday. It is possible to arrive or leave on a different day, but there is an extra £30 airport transfer fee, and you may miss out on some of the useful inductions.

Most nationalities are required to obtain a $75 visitor’s permit valid for 30 days, with the option to extend for additional 30 days at roughly $10 up to a maximum of 90 days. Check with us when applying

The 2 bed private chalet is a supplement of £20/$26 per night for 1 or 2 people. Or you can opt to share the chalet with one other person for £12/$15 per night. The 4 bed chalet can be made available for groups of 3 or 4 people at £12/$15 per person per night.

We recommend bringing out a little extra to spend on drinks, meals out and souvenirs. £30 a week should more than cover these, depending on your lifestyle. As an idea of costs for extra trips, you will need about £65-£125 if you want to take a trip to Lake Malawi, dependent on accommodation and activities. A 3 day safari to Zambia would be around £450.

All of the money raised through our volunteer programme, after costs, goes directly into the Wildlife Centre and its associated projects – without you the Wildlife Centre would not be able to continue to operate! Your donation means that we can continue to take in animals, feed and provide the essential medical care that they need, and pay local wages.

Premium Support Upgrade

We understand there’s a great deal to plan and organise for your trip. When booking a Placement, many of our participants choose to purchase our Premium Support Upgrade to benefit from the expertise, knowledge and experience of our Project Coordinators.

We can provide the personal advice you need to ensure your trip is organised with excellence and planned with efficiency; ensuring the very best experience possible. Read more about how we can help you.

My location
Get Directions

Note: Map coordinates are approximate