Certificate in Wildlife Conservation

Study wildlife conservation online and understand the importance of conserving threatened species.

Course CodeVEN024
Fee CodeCT
Duration (approx)600 hours

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Learn to Conserve Wildlife 

Wild animal species are under threat everywhere; from oceans to deserts, and rainforests to grasslands.

Animals are  more important than what most people realize. They are essential to the our ecology in ways that don't always seem obvious; and the importance of conserving wildlife, cannot be over stated.

This course covers many aspects of wildlife conservation to provide students with a foundation knowledge of the importance of conserving threatened species. 

  • Develop an understanding of habitat use
  • Learn about surveying for wildlife,
  • Explore ecological processes 
  • Discover the importance genetic diversity amongst much more.


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Certificate in Wildlife Conservation.
 Introduction To Ecology BEN101
 Vertebrate Zoology BEN104
 Wildlife Conservation BEN206
 Environmental Assessment BEN301
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 2 of the following 9 modules.
 Animal Health Care VAG100
 Marine Studies I BEN103
 Ornithology BEN102
 Animal Welfare BAG224
 Carnivore Zoology BEN219
 Genetics BSC207
 Herpetology BEN209
 Primatology (Primate Animals) BEN210
 Abnormal Psychology BPS307

Note that each module in the Certificate in Wildlife Conservation is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.


Module 1 -

There are seven lessons in this course as follows:

  1. Ecosystems & Populations
    Components of an ecosystem, Biomes, Detrital & grazing webs, trophic levels, energy flows etc
  2. The Development of Life
    Lifespans, Natural selection, Genetics, Understanding arguments for and against theory of evolution, etc.
  3. Animals, Parasites & Endangered Species
    Comparative anatomy, how animals fit in ecosystems, animals in the human community, parasites, etc
  4. Fungi, Tundra, Rainforests & Marshlands
    Physiology, anatomy, classification and ecology of fungi; Location, the climate, the plant and animal life related to different systems including tundra, marshes and rainforests.
  5. Mountains, Rivers & Deserts
    Formation ecology and importance of mountains (including erosion, volcanoes etc), formation & types of rivers, catchments, dams, deserts and their ecology, etc.
  6. Shallow Waters
    Shore lines, coral reefs, intermediate reefs, estuaries, sandy shores, etc.
  7. Ecological Problems
    The Greenhouse Effect, The Ozone Layer, Poisons & Waste Materials


The course is divided into ten lessons as follows:

  1. Vertebrate Taxonomy and Diversity
  2. Fishes
  3. Ectotherms: Amphibians and Reptiles
  4. Birds
  5. Overview of Mammals
  6. Marsupials
  7. Mammalian Glires and Insectivora
  8. Carnivores
  9. Hooved Mammals: Ungulata
  10. Primates and other Archonta


The course is divided into nine lessons as follows:

  1. Introduction to Wildlife Conservation
  2. Recovery of Threatened Species
  3. Habitat Conservation
  4. Approaches to Conservation of Threatened Species
  5. Vegetation Surveys
  6. Fauna Surveys
  7. Marine Conservation
  8. Planning for Wildlife
  9. Managing Threatened Wildlife Populations
  10. Wildlife Conservation Project (PBL)

Module 4 

There are 8 lessons in this course as follows:

  1. Types of Employment for Environmental Scientists.
  2. Introduction to Environmental Assessment.
  3. International Environmental Law.
  4. Domestic Environmental Law
  5. Types of Environmental Assessments
  6. The Design and Process of Environmental Assessment.
  7. Writing Environmental Reports Research Project
Elective Modules
There are a range of options listed, and others may also be acceptable. Here is what is covered by three of them.


The course is divided into nine lessons as follows:

  1. Scope and Nature of Animal Welfare
  2. Psychology and Sentience
  3. Managing Animal Welfare
  4. Animal Protection Services
  5. Animal Rescue Services
  6. Animal Health Services
  7. Animal Welfare for Pets, Work Animals and Animals in Sport
  8. Animal Welfare for Farm Animals 
  9. Animal Welfare for Wildlife: Free and Captive


The course consists of nine lessons.
  1. Classification & Introduction to Birdwatching.
  2. The Biology of Birds: Anatomy, external & internal structure, breeding, eggs etc.
  3. Common and Widespread Land Birds: Pests, introduced birds, pigeons, crows & their relatives, etc.
  4. Giant Birds & Long Legged Birds: Emu, Ostrich, Herons, Storks & Relatives etc
  5. Seabirds & Waterbirds
  6. Hunters -Birds of Prey, Owls, Kingfishers
  7. Passeriformes
  8. Other Birds Parrots, Honeyeaters, Swifts & others
  9. Attracting, Feeding & Keeping Birds


This course has 9 lessons as follows:

  1. Marine Ecology Systems
  2. Shallow Waters & Reefs
  3. Shellfish & Crustaceans
  4. Squid, Octopus, and Other Primitive Animals
  5. Fish Part A
  6. Fish Part B
  7. Marine Mammals
  8. Turtles, Sea Snakes and Seabirds
  9. Human Impact on Marine Environments & Fishing

How To Manage the Health of Wild Animals

The diagnosis and treatment of disease in wild animals is much more complex than in domestic animals, therefore preventing the spread of disease is the foundation for any wildlife veterinary program. A wildlife reserve or park should have a program in place that is continuous and is directed at individual animals as well as groups (eg. herds and flocks). This program might include some or all of the following:

  • Quarantine of diseased animals or new animals
  • Intermittent faecal exams (possibly including treatment)
  • Vaccination program
  • Health screening
  • Necropsy (corpse) exams and reporting
  • Comprehensive pest control program.

When animals are transferred from a zoo they should be assessed to comply with relevant health requirements before transfer (local, state and federal).

Parasitic Disease Control
When treating animals for parasite infection, care needs to be taken with drug selection as exotic animals can be sensitive to some medications. Young animals that have been recently transferred are the most vulnerable to disease from parasitic infection. Infections of Giardia, coccidian and other parasites can cause acute diarrhoea.  Amebiasis (intestinal illness) is common in primates and reptiles and can be fatal in susceptible individuals. Animals that are kept in natural enclosures, with dirt substrates or pasture are more susceptible to parasitic infection due to dirt floors can be continually exposed to parasites.

Wildlife parks need to have a comprehensive parasite control program in place for all species. This could include:

  • Good hygiene practices in place and followed by all staff
  • Reduce stress and overcrowding of animals 
  • Quarantine and test any new arrivals for parasites
  • Remove faecal material from enclosures on a regular basis. Clean and disinfect enclosures if necessary.
  • Ensure that water cannot be contaminated with faecal matter or other biological sources
  • Routine treatment for susceptible species. These should be timed to reduce egg output.
  • Monitor faeces of susceptible species by undertaking egg counts.

All animals transferred to a collection should go through quarantine beforehand. This should be a separate facility within a park that is able to accommodate different animals. If this facility does not exist animals are required to be isolated in a way to prevent spread of disease or other forms of contamination. Quarantine facilities are designed to allow for handling of the animal as well as cleaning and sanitising of the enclosure.

Quarantine should last for at least 30 days unless otherwise recommended by the veterinarian. A keeper is usually designated to work only with quarantined animals to avoid the possible spread of disease. During quarantine the animal may receive appropriate vaccinations and undergo diagnostic testing. They are examined for potential parasites and screened for pathogens. Faecal matter is also regularly checked for potential parasites. If any are found treatment is prescribed and the animal must show two negative faecal results before leaving quarantine. All of the procedures and results are recorded in the animal’s medical record which becomes a major part of the animal’s veterinary program.

Vaccines are generally available to veterinary staff at zoos however there are no commercially available vaccines that are specific animals. Therefore, vaccinations are not commonly provided in all parks or zoos. Most vaccines used by veterinary staff are designed for domestic or livestock animals. Veterinary staff members have to convert the dosage information from data on non-zoo animals and usually then monitor the effectiveness to provide more accurate dosages later on.

Vaccines can be given either orally or via subcutaneous or intramuscular injection. The latter two are more commonly used in zoos. Before deciding to vaccinate the animals veterinary staff members need to decide whether the risk of vaccination which would require capture and restraint is less than the risk of the animal catching a disease.

Working in Wildlife Conservation
Working with Wildlife conservation can include:

  • Wildlife Rescue (eg. with animal shelters)
  • Animal Protection (eg. Enforcement officers, Rangers dealing with poachers, Conservation Societies)
  • Parks Management (eg. wilderness areas, rural, marine parks)
  • Animal Relocation (eg. catching protected wildlife, like snakes, in residential areas) 
  • Animal Survey/ Environmental Assessment
  • Managing Breeding Programs (Zoos, Wildlife Reserves)
  • Research
  • Education
  • Media, Public Relations

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Dr Robert Browne

Zoologist, Environmental Scientist and Sustainability, science based consultancy with biotechnology corporations. Work focused on conservation and sustainability. Robert has published work in the fields of nutrition, pathology, larval growth and develop
Barbara Seguel

Teacher and Researcher, Marine Scientist, Tourism and Outdoor recreation guide, Health and Safety Coordinator & Production Manager for Fisheries, National Park Staff/Farmer, Laboratory technical aide, Zoo, Wildlife and Marine Park assistant. Barbara has w
Alison Pearce

Alison brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to ACS students. She has worked as a University Lecturer, has also run a veterinary operating theatre; responsible for animal anaesthesia, instrument preparation, and assistance with surgical techniqu
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