Qualification - Certificate in Wildlife Conservation

Course CodeVEN024
Fee CodeCT
Duration (approx)600 hours
Learn more about wildlife conservation with this certificate course. 
  • Complete six modules covering wildlife conservation, environmental management, ornithology, vertebrate zoology and much more.
  • Improve your job prospects and increase your knowledge at the same time.
  • Study from the comfort of your own home with support from our excellent tutors.
This course covers a wide range of issues relating to wildlife conservation - 
  • ecological processes
  • conservation of species and their habitat
  • genetic diversity of small populations
  • vertebrate zoology
  • ecological processes
  • surveying for wildlife and
  • ornithology
  • marine studies


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Qualification - 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 8 modules.
 Animal Health Care VAG100
 Marine Studies I BEN103
 Ornithology BEN102
 Animal Welfare BAG224
 Forage Management BAG226
 Herpetology BEN209
 Primates BEN210
 Plant Conservation BHT346

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

The course is made up of six modules. There are four core modules as mentioned above - Introduction To Ecology, Vertebrate Zoology, Wildlife Conservation and Environmental Assessment.
You then choose TWO electives from the list detailed below.

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)



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



You are required to complete two elective modules chosen from Ornithology, Marine Studies I, Herpetology and Primates.
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


There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to Herpetology
    • Herpetology Defined
    • Introduction to Reptiles
    • Animal Taxonomy
    • Classification of Reptiles
    • Characteristics of Reptiles
    • Testudine Characteristics (Turtles)
    • Squamata Characteristics (Snakes and Lizards)
    • Rhynchocephalia Characteristics (Tuatara)
    • Classification of Amphibians
    • Amphibian Characteristics
    • Building Resources and Developing Networks
    • Terminology
  2. Class Reptilia (Reptiles)
    • Reptile Classification
    • Water Conservation
    • Reproduction
    • Order Chelonia (Testudines); Turtles
    • Order Crocodilia; Crocodilians
    • Order Squamata
    • Scaled Reptiles; Lizards (Suborder Sauria) and Snakes (Suborder Serpentes)
  3. Reptile Biology
    • Reptile Anatome
    • Skeleton
    • Scales and Skutes
    • Ectothermal Regulation
    • Coloration
    • Respiration and Metabolism
    • Food and Digestion
    • Senses
    • Locomotion
  4. Class Amphibia (Amphibians)
    • Order Anura (Frogs and Toads)
    • Order Apoda (Caecilians)
    • Order Urodela (Salamanders and Newts)
  5. Amphibian Biology
    • Amphibian Skeleton
    • Skin
    • Ectothermal Regulation
    • Colouration
    • Respiration and Metabolism
    • Branchial
    • Buccopharyngeal
    • Cutaneous
    • Pulmonic
    • Food and Digestion
    • Senses
    • Locomotion
    • Reproduction
  6. Ecology of Reptiles
    • Species Richness
    • Constriction
    • Injected Venom
    • Inertia Feeding
    • Biting and Grasping
    • Suction Feeding
    • Reproductive Strategies
    • Viviparity
    • Oviparity
    • Nest Building
    • Habitat Use; Aquatic and Terrestrial
    • Basking
    • Hibernation
  7. Ecology of Amphibians
    • Use of Habitat
    • Temperature Relationships
    • Feeding
    • Vocal Communication; Advertisement calls, Territorial calls, Release calls, Distress calls
    • Social Behaviour
    • Dealing with Predators
    • Reproduction and Parental Care
  8. Conservation Issues
    • Habitat change
    • Edge Effects
    • Pollution; especially water pollution
    • Environmental Acidification (Acid Rain)
    • Pesticides
    • Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals
    • Spread of disease
    • Invasive Species
    • Climate Change
    • Spread of Disease
    • Disease in Wild Populations
    • Trade in Reptiles and Amphibians
    • Conservation
    • Conservation Genetics
    • Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals
  9. Keeping Reptiles and Amphibians
    • Introduction
    • Legal Issues
    • Special conditions for Amphibians
    • Special Conditions for Reptiles
    • Preventing Spread of Disease from Reptiles to Humans
    • Housing
    • Reptile Captivity Problems
    • Reptile Feed and Feeding
    • Amphibians and Reptile Species that are in Captivity
    • Feeding Amphibians
    • General Care
    • Common Ailments in Reptiles and Amphibians
    • Parasitic Diseases
    • Fungal Diseases
    • Viral Diseases
    • Metabolic Bone Disease
    • Thiamine Deficiency

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to Primates –scope, nature, anatomy & physiology, evolution, taxonomy,
  2. The Strepsirhines -Lemurs, Bush babies, etc
  3. The Haplorhimes -Monkeys, Apes, etc
  4. Diet and Nutrition re environment feed and supplements in a nature park environment
  5. Health - Illness Pests and diseases specific to above
  6. Primate Behaviour in the Wild
  7. Psychological Wellbeing in Primates in Captivity
  8. Breeding programmes and optimum resources needed for this
  9. Conservation in the wild -of individual breeds?
  10. Managing primates in Captivity

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


What are Perissodactyls?

Perissodactyls are even toed ungulate mammals. They are a group of mammals that includes horses and rhinosceros.
There are fewer species alive today than in pre historic times - only 15 today, many of which are threatened with extinction; mostly due to the loss of habitat and hunting.
The taxonomic Order Perissodactyla comprises of two suborders and three families including: Horses, Rhinoceroses and Tapirs.  

Habitat and Distribution
Although order Perissodactyls is a small order and with many species now threatened, their distribution does cover an extensive geographic range.  Many Perissodactyl species can be found distributed across America, Asia and Africa and with the domestication of some species they can be found worldwide.  Their species do range from thriving in habitats of tropical forests and grasslands.

Species of zebra can range from Namibia and Southern Angola and across the African plains.  Asses distribution range does vary geographically, although preferring the semi desert environment, they can be found living in habitat from Northern Africa, Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and the Tibesti mountain range in the Sahara.  Wild horses are becoming more rare, but are still quite widely distributed ranging from the semi desert regions of; Mongolia, China, Nepal, Western Tibet and Iran.  Rhinoceros can be found ranging from Africa to Asia.  Tapirs range from Sumatra to the Malay Peninsula, from the Andes in Columbia, Ecuador to Peru.   

Sadly, habitat loss, farming and hunting has placed strain on this orders populations, with some species numbers rapidly decreasing.  The African White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum) used to roam south of the Zambezi River, but now can only be seen living in the game reserves of South Africa.  When the population increases, individuals are distributed to other reserves to try and help increase the population and distribution of this species. 

Physical Characteristics and Physiology

All the species from the order Perissodactyl are thought to be relatively large mammals ranging from the smaller Tapir to the Rhinoceros.  Their appearance varies significantly from the stumpy pig like features of the Tapir, to the tall features of the zebra, to the broad, strong features of the Rhinoceros.  They all do have some physical similarities.  They can all be found to have high crowned molars which allow for easy grinding of plant material. They all have reduced Ulna and Fibula bones (foreleg and hind leg) and they consist of elongated limbs.  All species lack a clavicle bone (collar bone) which assists with their speed when running and increases their efficiency.  The third digit is the most prominent in all Perissodactyl species, and it is said that all species have mesaxonic feet.  This means their skeletal axis runs down through the third digit.


Perissodactyl species are a group of herbivorous, and their diets vary from long, coarse grasses to bulbs, shrubs and plants.  They are either browsers or grazers and they all comprise of a simple stomach, unlike the chambered stomachs of the Arodactyl species.  Some of the bacterial digestion of the cellulose takes place in the cecum, which is enlarged and sac shaped.  

Perissodactyls have quite a lengthy gestational period with:

  • Equids – Eleven to twelve months
  • Tapirs – thirteen months
  • Rhinoceros – sixteen months

They usually only give birth to one well developed offspring per pregnancy, and the young are parent dependant for quite some time, usually until the next offspring arrives.  This can be as old as two years in a Rhinocerotidae species.  The young must quickly learn how to stand, and Zebra foals have been known to stand as quick as fourteen minutes after birth.  The young will stay by their mother’s side.  Suckling proceeds for quite some time, although grazing does start earlier.

The social behaviour of Perissodactyl species does vary and some species live in social units, others choose to live a more solitary lifestyle.  Zebras in general prefer to live in a social unit, and this probably helps against predators.  They usually form groups of one dominant male, two or three females and their foals.  The male is the most dominant, with the females forming a hierarchy between themselves.  Some younger male zebras are solitary or form what is known as a bachelors groups, a group of juvenile males. Male rhinos dominate territories, and will tolerate other males if they are subordinate and not a threat to their dominance or territory.  The females and their calf’s tend to wonder through different male territories.  Some species of the wild Ass live solitary, but herds of females are seen grazing together throughout daylight hours, other species seem to live in harems with one dominant male and his mating females.     

The Equidae family do vary in courtship behaviours, with the male Ass being quite aggressive, he will chase, bite and kick the female before copulation occurs.  The zebra species and wild horses tend to take a more gentle behaviour to courtship and males can be seen grooming females before copulation occurs.  The Tapiridae and Rhinocerotidae species are solitary and courtship usually starts with the males chasing the females which then leads on to light fighting, the male will then lay his head over the female ready to mount for copulation to occur.  

Aggressive behaviour and fighting generally only occurs between males who are fighting for territory, or to win the female who is in cycle.  Zebras can exhibit aggressive behaviour towards each other by rearing, kicking, biting, fighting with their necks and kicking whilst running.  Whereas, the Rhinoceros will use vocal threats, charge and strike with their horn.  This behaviour is a higher risk of injury, so they do tend to assess the situation.  It is not in their interest to fight with such a high risk of injury.  

Wallowing behaviour is exhibited in all Perissodactyl species and they can quite often be seen rolling around in dry or loose soil.  This may be a self-grooming behaviour which assists in scratching and exfoliation of dead skin, but may also assist in the regulation of their body temperatures and to protect the skin from the sun’s rays.  

Significance to Man
This orders significance to man is most probably the domestication of two species; Equus caballus (horse) and Equus asinus (donkey).  Both these species have been domesticated by man around 3000 BC; with the donkey descending from Wild Asses and the horse from wild horses from a variety of areas across the globe.  Man seen use for these animals for their strength and their ability to carry or pull heavier objects than man could.  They also realised they could ride them which of course allowed man to move faster across land than by foot.  

Rhinocerotidae species are also quite significant as man has almost drove them to extinction.  Habitat loss plays a large part of this, but also hunting them for their horns.  Many Rhinos have been killed or just sedated by poachers only for their horns which once they wake, they slowly and painfully bleed to death.  The horn is made up of keratin and is commonly thought of as a trophy for ornamental use, and is also used in traditional Chinese medicine.  


Each module can be taken as a stand alone course. 
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