Dates: 4th August – 31st August 2019

The Programme

Dr. Greg Rasmussen, Director Painted Dog Research Trust

Dr. Greg Rasmussen, Director Painted Dog Research Trust

A comprehensive four-week summer field course designed exclusively for dedicated students looking to develop skills for becoming competent field biologists. At the end of the programme, students will have furthered their knowledge of African ecology, developed methods for biological data collection in the field, designed their own local conservation initiative, and will have led a remote field expedition in the African bushveld.

The course is led by acclaimed Field Academic and African canid specialist Dr. Gregory Rasmussen. All students will be supervised by Dr. Rasmussen, with a series of practical workshops & lectures hosted by a combination of Greg and local researchers. The programme includes four nights camping at key locations in the surrounding study area.


Students are based at The Painted Dog Research field station in Sizinda, a 30 minute drive outside Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Student accommodation in traditional huts with individual private rooms. The field sites are around the base in Sizinda, the Matetsi Safari Area and Hwange National Park, where all the Big Five animals are present (Elephants, Lions, Leopards, Buffalo, Rhino). For the overnight field trips, you will be sleeping & eating in designated camping sites.

*There are 2 weekends free to explore the surrounding area, e.g. Victoria Falls or cross the border with 1 night safari trips to nearby Chobe National Park, Botswana or to Zambia*  

Map of the field site study area

Map of the field site study area

Student Accommodation – individual private rooms

Student Accommodation – individual private rooms

About Dr. Gregory Rasmussen

Dr. Gregory Rasmussen has been exclusively working with Painted Dogs since 1989, working in the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. He is the founder of Painted Dog Conservation and is currently the head of Painted Dog Research Trust (PRDT) in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. MK Moyo is his field technician tracker and right-hand man. His broader team comprises several Zimbabwean graduate students.

Greg uses data and research as the guiding tool to conservation. He mentors overseas and Zimbabwean students with the intention of creating a generation of motivated, field competent, and passionate conservation biologists.

In 2003, while tracking a rhino, Rasmussen survived a plane crash which left him severely injured and alone in the African bush. He endured 36 hours of horror which left him paralyzed, both legs crushed, in extreme pain and no water, fighting off lions and hyenas. He was eventually rescued and almost lost his feet but doctors saved them. He is 3 inches shorter today and is known for his amazing research, excellent storytelling, and energetic spirit. The story of his survival is featured in season one of “I Shouldn’t Be Alive”, a documentary series broadcast on the Discovery Channel in an episode entitled “Jaws of Death”.

Read more about Dr. Gregory Rasmussen here.

About Made in the Wild

Made in the Wild’s mission is to spotlight creature and habitat diversity, inspiring the world to get into the wild and explore. Founded by Jack Randall, he began sharing his wild stories whilst traipsing through the jungles of the Amazon researching Green Anacondas. You can check out Jack’s adventures on his upcoming National Geographic WILD television series broadcasting globally in 2019. Jack studied Biological Sciences at the University of Oxford, supervised by Dr. Greg Rasmussen for his own field work in Zimbabwe!

Course Itinerary

Elephants at Hwange National Park

Elephants at Hwange National Park


Arriving on Sunday at Victoria Falls, you will be picked up by Dr. Rasmussen and the Painted Dog Research Field team and go to Sizinda, your base for the month. The first week covers an overview of the ecology of the surrounding area, introduction to data collection, with practical workshops on sampling around the surrounding area – including biodiversity surveys, tree sampling, and camera trapping.

*1st weekend free to explore*


This week introduces you to working in the field, with 2 days in a safari area. Workshops cover required bush skills & tracking, as well as map reading and orienteering. You will then be ready for the first data collection trip in the field, camping overnight to allow 2 days for data collection & remote fieldwork. On return to base, Greg will introduce his historical data from the Painted Dog Research Programme (including picture IDs and satellite locations).

*2nd weekend free to explore* 

WEEK 3 – DESIGNING COMMUNITY CONSERVATION INITIATIVESIn this week, you will learn how to design & implement community conservation initiatives. You will visit the local communities on a proactive conservation initiative, as well as work directly with Zulu (PDRT Education Officer) to develop a Kids education & skills swap programme.

*3rd weekend not free, as you will be preparing for the field mission, leaving on Sunday*


The final week you will spend 3 nights, 4 days on an expedition into the African bush. The mission is to collect data from the sample sites, as well as observing/searching for Painted Dogs for photography and observational data. You will gain an in-depth knowledge from Greg and his field team, with daily practical workshops on the ecology of the area.


£1,600 per student

Places are limited to just 16 students.

The fee includes food, accommodation, staff supervision and overnight field trips. Students must cover their own weekend trips if desired (please note, accommodation & food is provided over the weekends for those not leaving for the weekend).

Payment Schedule

  • A £300 deposit is required per person to secure your place
  • 31st March 2019 – £650
  • 30th June 2019 – £650

Please contact Suzie with any questions.

Suzie Brearley

[email protected]

+44 7507 397423