South Africa Study Abroad – Erin D.


Introduction photoGreetings from South Africa! My name is Erin Doll and I am twenty years old. I am a junior at Mississippi State pursuing a degree in Animal and Dairy Sciences. This summer I am privileged with the opportunity to intern with the Safari4u Veterinary Program. For the next month I will be working with Safari4u in Cintsa, South Africa. This internship is designed to provide a broad and comprehensive understanding of animals in the African context.Throughout this program I will be given the opportunity to work with local domestic animals, livestock, and wildlife. My responsibilities will range from assisting with game capture to working on various community outreach projects. The program is under the supervision of our program vet and in coordination with many individuals in various sectors of the animal industry. This wide range of experiences will be invaluable to me as I work toward my goal of becoming a veterinarian. I can’t wait to see what the next month has in store for me.


This week began bright and early on Sunday morning to catch my first flight to New York. From there I met of with some other interns on my program and boarded our fifteen hour flight to Johannesburg. We then got on one last plane ride to the East London Airport where we met up with our program coordinator. After we settled into our house in Cintsa East, we did a short orientation and hit the ground running. We started by doing a postmortem exam on a bushwhack. Later in the afternoon we went to a nearby Xhosa village. There we did flea dips and deworming for dogs with the program vet.

We started out on Tuesday building a mobile vet clinic for the program. This will eventually be used to give veterinary services to communities in need. In the afternoon we went to modify a trailer for giraffe capture. For giraffe transport, the trailer must be as wind proof as possible so that the animal can stay warm during the trip because they are not able to thermoregulate as well when sedated.


Week 1_giraffe captureWe started the day very early on Wednesday at a private game reserve where we were assisting with giraffe captures. It is a complex process that involves a lot of coordination between the vet, the buyer, the seller, and even the weather. Giraffe are one of the most difficult animals to capture and transport because they are very susceptible to cardiomyopathy and due to their large size they must be walked into the trailer.


Weel 1_Bos indicusOn Thursday we started the day dipping horses for ticks and feeding. In the afternoon we visited a local farm and performed pregnancy checks on a group of cows via rectal palpation. It was interesting to see the differences in cattle breeds here as compared to the US. The majority of the cattle are Bos indicus or hybrids. We also toured the pig operation while we were there.Week 1_pig





Our week ended by taking a tour of Python Park. While we were there we were introduced to various reptile species native to parts of Africa and around the world as well as reptile handling and health. We spent the afternoon touring a commercial fish farm. We were able to observe the different stages of fish being grown out as well as the laboratory where they monitor fish health. The facility we visited is one of the only of its kind in South Africa.










April checking in from Vietnam

Search and Re-Search

The past few weeks have been a research mad house. After collecting one hundred and eighty samples from the markets in Ho Chi Minh City microbiological analysis commenced. The procedures that I produced had only been practiced once in Vietnam with only three samples, so 180 samples was a massive undertaking. None of the preparation that I had done the past six months prepared me for leading a group of eight people to do something that I had never completed on my own. This first region had many difficulties with procedures, but in the end, the research team produced a solid procedure that will be used for the following two regions. April_lab2Not only did we do microbiological testing, we also recorded observational data, such as, water availability, lighting, cleanliness, and hygiene conditions for each sample purchased. After sampling my fellow grad student, Phuong Vu, conducted one hundred surveys with a team of five undergraduates for each market, totaling six hundred surveys. April_labThese surveys will help us provide recommendations for safety interventions and a consumers’ willingness to pay for these improvements. Phuong Vu is using beef that was collected at each market to conduct a sensory panel and chemical analysis. Without the help of the undergrad and graduate students at Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology, there is no way this project would be where it is. I would still be translating invoices and trying to find my way on the bus. When I was in America, I knew I could always go ask a question or have Dr. Dinh tell me systematically what to do. This project has helped me learn how to think like a leader instead of a worker and to constantly ask questions about everything, then find the answer myself. I am very excited to continue with sample collections and to keep exploring Vietnam. I am currently on holiday for Lunar New Year, or Tet, for two weeks in Nha Trang. So far, I am really enjoying the more scenic views of Nha Trang, especially the beach.



I am use to the beaches in Galveston, Texas, which can sometimes be a bit stinky and not very clear water. This beach is exactly what I think about when I think about a beach, saltiness in the air, rolling waves, a nice breeze, plenty of sunshine.Although I have encountered more speedos than I will ever need to see. Unlike America, the other countries of the world have no shame, especially Russia and Italy! No shame at all. I hope that I will get to see some of the other sites of Vietnam when the research wraps up, but until then nose to the grindstone.