Get the opportunity to volunteer with wildlife and enjoy living on a 240 000-acre Big-5 and Malaria Free private game reserve in South Africa’s Kalahari Desert. The project offers a true perspective of the problems facing African Wildlife, and allows guests to give something back to the continent’s conservation efforts. Break free from tourists and time limits as you follow animals in their natural habitat in this once in a lifetime conservation experience!
As a wildlife volunteer South Africa, you will see first hand how urbanisation, agriculture, mining, and other human activities have plagued local wildlife habitats for decades. As a result, numerous wildlife species face extinction. Many animals are simply unable to adapt to such radical environmental changes fast enough, and the ensuing decline in suitable habitats has lead to widespread inbreeding throughout local wildlife populations. The resulting lack of genetic variation is a significant contributing factor to the demise of these animals. Growing human settlements continue to encroach on wilderness areas, and this is leading to a dramatic increase in human/wildlife conflicts.
Any land given back to nature should always be viewed as a significant win for conservation efforts
Guests are accommodated in a tented lodge which offers incredible game viewing and sensational star-gazing opportunities to all who visit! There are four two-sleeper tents each with an en-suite bathroom (rooms are shared between guests). There is a kitchen and dining tent, a shaded outdoor section for guests to relax, and a boma for outdoor dining. There is electricity and hot water at the lodge, and safe drinking water is available. Three home cooked meals are supplied daily.
WORKING WITH WILDLIFE ACTIVITIES
Predator Research: Based on the ecological needs of the reserve, guests will be participating in the continuous monitoring of various predatory species. This research will focus primarily on developing a database of the reserve's African Wild Dog (Painted Wolf) and Lion populations. This database is essential for the reserve's ecologist to determine the reserve’s predator/prey populations, and ensure a balanced ecosystem is maintained.
- This research may involve other wildlife including (but not limited to); Cheetah, Leopard, Brown and Spotted Hyena, Elephant, Rhino, Vultures, and Buffalo.
- This may require following predators late at night when they are most active.
Camera Traps: Placing and monitoring camera traps to conduct scientific research and animal identification (e.g. a wild dog’s unique coat or a leopard’s unique pattern). Due to the sheer size of the reserve, placing and collecting camera traps from around the reserve before analyzing the data is no small task!
Game Counts: Guests are taken on specific routes to conduct game counts and monitor any increase or decrease of significance in any of the reserve’s wildlife populations. Accurate game counts are one of the most important tools for reserve management as changes in wildlife populations or sex ratios can be an early indication of specific ecological problems (e.g. too many/few predators). Management can isolate different variables and use these counts to correctly identify an ecological problem before it’s too late.
Vegetation Management and Surveys: The reserve’s ecologist has set a programme in motion to monitor changes in fauna and flora. Over sixty randomly selected sites have been identified, and vegetation surveys are used to identify gradual and/or sudden changes in vegetation across the reserve, recognise changes in species composition, health of the grass layer, bush encroachment and whether the reserve is overstocked. This data is captured and analysed and used to determine the impact that environmental factors, including herbivores, are having on the vegetation of the reserve.
Reserve Work: Bush encroachment is a problem throughout African savannas. Not only does it impact on the habitats available to animals, it also impacts the infrastructure that we need to use in conservation areas. As this is a large reserve that is not open to the general public, many of the roads are hardly used. In fact, guests are unlikely to encounter another vehicle during their entire stay at the reserve! This also means that many of these roads get overgrown with encroaching bush and trimming of bushes on the road verges provides access to the road across the reserve. Other reserve work may include removing invasive plant species, and removal of old fencing wires from left over from earlier farming days that may entangle animals.
Special Events (occasional): On any well managed reserve, there are occasional some special activities that take place in the successful running of a reserve. These activities range from ear notching rhinos and lions, to capturing and translocation of wild dogs, lions or other predators to different reserves to ensure proper genetic diversity or to contribute to the conservation of the species elsewhere, tracking collars may be fitted or removed from specific animals, game capture teams may be required to remove some animals to maintain a balanced ecosystem (population control), whilst other animals may need to be darted for veterinary care or moved to a quarantine zone for disease testing. These events can provide veterinary students with a more hands-on experience that will undoubtedly aid in their studies.
Please note: Under no circumstances will an animal be darted for guest purposes. This project falls in-line with the ecological needs of the reserve only.
Other activities can include (but are not limited to): Anti-poaching, game capture, lectures from subject matter experts in conservation, and much more.