VETERINARY nurse Christine Abbott is swapping life at a rural North Yorkshire practice to help lions, rhinos, elephants and giraffes in South Africa.
Christine will be among a group of volunteers taking part in a conservation project at the Welgevendon Private Game Reserve in South Africa.
The 24-year-old flies out on August 13 as part of a delegation of vets and veterinary nurses, who will live for two weeks in a tent at a research camp, surrounded by wildlife.
Christine, who works at both Mount Veterinary Group in Malton and Minster Vets in York, will have the chance to experience hands-on wildlife veterinary work behind the scenes at one of South Africa’s biggest Game Reserves.
Under the direction of one of South Africa’s leading wildlife vets, Dr Peter Caldwell, the team will experience game capture and relocation, and carry out various tasks, including meerkat tracking, collecting DNA from rhinos and helping in the conservation of endangered species.
Welgevonden, which covers 38,200 hectares, near Johannesburg, is home to more than 50 different mammals, including the Big Five – African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard and rhinoceros.
Christine is particularly looking forward to lion collaring, where lions are caught and fitted with collars with GPS systems to enable veterinary conservationists to track and monitor their movements.
“It is going to be the experience of a lifetime,” she said.
“I am most excited about working with lions as I love cats, especially big cats.
“Although I love working with small animals at both Mount Vets and Minster Vets, going to South Africa is really going to open my eyes about how I can develop my career in the future.
“The trip is going to be very rewarding and it is also a great opportunity to travel and experience another lifestyle.”
Christine trained as a hairdresser before pursuing her dream to become a veterinary nurse. She worked as an animal nursing assistant, before becoming a student veterinary nurse.
She divides her time between Mount Vets and Minster Vets, which are part of the VetPartners group, looking after cats, dogs, rabbits and other domestic pets.
Her South African adventure was organised through Askham Bryan College, where she is studying for a Diploma in Veterinary Nursing.
Christine added: “When we arrive in South Africa, there will be a supermarket where we will need to buy anything we need for the next two weeks as there is nothing around us.
“We will be living on the research camp in permanent tent structures with electricity. We will be surrounded by wildlife, with only an electric fence separating us from wild animals. The elephants and giraffes can reach over the fence to eat from the trees above us.”
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