Budding zoologist Rose Massingham, of Chippenham, took part in the trip of a lifetime when she volunteered at a wildlife conservation project in South Africa.

The 19-year-old was lucky enough to get up close to leopards, lions and hyenas as she spent her days tracking animals and fitting radio collars at the Phinda Wildlife Research Project.

But she soon found she was a lot closer to nature than she had planned when she realised her temporary home was occupied by a whole host of creatures.

“I stayed in a spacious but rundown student house with other students,” said Rose, who studied A-levels at Abbeyfield School. “We shared the house with mice, two giant black wasps and an army of tiny ants.”

Rose, of Queens Close, spent a year raising the £2,000 needed to take part in the project, and her dreams came true when she was able to get close enough to touch a wild leopard, which was stuck between two electric fences.

She said: “The leopard was darted and sedated, then he was taken to a new location in the reserve.

“While he was unconscious we were allowed a closer look. He was absolutely beautiful.

“Seeing these animals in pictures really doesn’t communicate how gorgeous and powerful they are in reality.”