Volunteer work in South Africa – A Typical Day!
If you are serious about living in South Africa and the environment, why not consider volunteer work in Zululand? Sometimes it is not always possible to find work in another country due to a number of factors. It is much easier to get here if you volunteer your services or skills.
What you can expect on a typical day as a conservation volunteer
Be prepared to wake up early to start your adventure. Your day will begin on the back of a 4x4 with a wildlife monitor and about five other volunteers. Your job in the morning will be to find animals that the monitor has chosen for the day. Radio telemetry equipment (which you will be trained to use) is used to locate these animals.
When you have found the animal that you are looking for, you will use a handheld GPS to map their movements and document their behaviours. Some endangered species are included in the list of animals that you will be tracking. The Cheetah, African Wild Dog, Black Rhino and White Rhino are some of the fascinating animals that you will have the chance to track.
You will return to base camp in the late morning to have some lunch, relax, and read or whatever else you wish to do. The work begins again at around 15h00, where you will follow up on the animals that you located earlier. You will head back to camp just before sunset to start getting supper ready. Sitting around a camp fire and listening to the noises of nature is the most relaxing experience, especially after a long day out and about. Once a week everyone will get together to go over the data that has been gathered.
It is Not Disneyland!
The saying ‘This is Zululand, Not Disneyland’ basically means that it will not all be fun and games. Sometimes tracking animals can be exhilarating, but sometimes it can be hard work as well. Games captures, notching, collaring and releases can be very exciting, but due to the nature of the work done, there can be times when you spend the entire day trying to track one animal without success. The work done in Zululand is important and the only way to see what the real Africa is all about.
The Training and skills that you will learn
- You will learn how to use hand-held GPS devices;
- How to make animal identification kits;
- How to use the telemetry equipment correctly;
- How to properly set up and use camera traps;
- How to use traditional tracking methods to track animals;
- A good understanding of the conservation issues that endangered species are facing; and
- How to gather animal behaviour data and how it is used to manage reserves across Africa.
By Robbie Ragless