Volunteering South Africa Zululand – Marianne
As part of our feedback interview, Marianne revealed more about her time as a volunteer in our wildlife conservation project in South Africa. Learn more
Project: Species conservation in Zululand/South Africa
Locations: Zululand/South Africa
Duration: End of September until beginning of November 2018 – 6 weeks
Support from the Natucate team:
Volunteering in South Africa– Feedback: Eight questions for Marianne
1) Could you give us a brief overview of your tasks in the project?
Each day the volunteers set off for two tours (early in the morning + in the afternoon) together with the “monitor” to the observe and study endangered and priority animal species using radiotelemetry + GPS on the way in the park. The project work included the sighting of lions, wild dogs and cheetahs. Each week, camera stations in the field are inspected and maintained, some of them replaced. In the office/camp, volunteers use computers to record data and mark photos with identification of animals from the field cameras. Once a month, a report is prepared by volunteers and monitors and sent to the park management. Besides these "standards" we fed wild dogs in the enclosure every two days in the Tembe-Elephant-Park. The missions in the parks are fixed at 2 weeks. Whoever is interested (ask) gets a lot of insight into the park management, which does not only take care of protecting wild animals but also the flora and fauna as well as cooperating with the surrounding communities.
2) What was the biggest challenge for you during the project?
At the beginning the proximity of wildlife, sometimes only a few meters away. I quickly got used to it and later found it a "gift" to be able to experience it that way. Dress warmly, the morning tour started mostly around 04.30 / 05.00 am; sitting on the open truck, the wind will make you shiver. This also applies to the late evening tour when it gets cooler or rains.
3) Was there something you liked most? Or something you remember particularly negatively?
The daily sighting and observation of all animal species in the park – elephants constantly cross the path – amazing. If you are interested in wild animals, this is the place for you. Thanks to my own experience, I now understand the necessary work in the project much better. It is important that people around the world work to protect these endangered species and share their experiences on the ground. The news about three rhino killings by poachers during our stay was devastating.
4) Did you have certain expectations before travelling to the project?
I had no specific idea what to expect; I didn't want to know that exactly beforehand. During my very first game drive I knew this volunteer mission was the right choice. It was fascinating and simply great to be able to observe the animals so closely and to see that they are doing well in the park. I especially loved the morning tours. It's wonderful when being in the park at sunrise, in peace and almost alone (you don't find the tourist cars so early and rather on the weekend days). I do not only want to emphasize the animal sightings, but also the parks themselves are simply beautiful and worth seeing, thereby very different landscapes.
5) Have you done anything in your free time that you can recommend to future participants?
Yes, depending on the location, all parks offer trips to the nearest beach or to another nearby park, sometimes with overnight accommodation. I would make use of this offer, since the ‘movement possibilities’ in the camp are limited. Monday is the week’s shopping day. Volunteers can join the shopping tours and do some private shopping (beer / wine or whatever else is needed).
6) What recommendations would you give to other participants?
It would be helpful to have information material about the activities on site, in particular the telemetry which is used daily. All documents are available in paper form in the camps, well understandable, not always well accessible for all. I recommend dispatch by email.
7) Can you estimate how many additional costs you had on site?
Always depending on personal wishes and needs. The food in the camp is of good quality and sufficient. For a 6-week stay I spent approx. 120,00 EUR – for beer / 2-3 restaurant visits / excursions on Sundays to the sea and to the hippo park.
8) Here is still room for other suggestions or stories from you:
In the future, I would like to volunteer more often in local projects to protect animals. During the 6 weeks I spent in KwaZulu Natal I finally found myself. From now on, this kind of project work and similar activities will be a part of my life.
Become active in preserving endangered wildlife and unique ecosystems as a volunteer in South Africa