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14 Days Conservation Safari South Africa

  • Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park - Mkhuze Game Reserve - Tembe National Elephant Park - Somkhanda Game Reserve - Zululand Rhino Reserve

Enlightening South African Safari

Wildlife ACT is proud to have initiated 5 project sites on various wildlife reserves across Zululand, South Africa. The Zululand ecosystem is among the most diverse and productive wild lands on the planet, yet amid its gallery of wildlife, conservation efforts face tremendous challenges. Therefore, Wildlife ACT needs your help. It's time to contribute to wildlife conservation whilst gaining much information about the wildlife itself!

Highlights

  • Telemetry tracking
  • A set of skills learning
  • Animals sighting mapping
  • Critically endangered species monitoring
  • Documenting behavioral notes
  • 3 daily self-prepared meals
  • 13 nights' lodging
  • 13 activity days
  • English
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The accommodation is basic but comfortable. Most volunteers will share a twin room, with separate shared baths and a living / eating area. The accommodation has electricity, running warm water and flushing toilets. A bed, mattress, pillows and bed linens are provided.

You will be responsible for helping to keep the camp clean and tidy. There is always an outside seating area where you can sit by the fire under the stars. Because you live on the reserve itself and often don’t have fencing around the camp, you can expect visits from antelope, monkeys, and baboons during the day, and hyena and bush-babies at night.

Zululand is considered by many as the heartbeat of Africa and the birthplace of conservation in Africa. The African bush is such a dynamic and ever-changing environment in which to work and your movements and activities are entirely regulated by the animals that you monitor.

Depending on how long you join the team for and the time of year, you may also be part of darting or trapping and radio collaring of various animal species, the relocation and reintroduction of game, identity tagging of animals, setting and checking of camera traps, game counts, bird ringing and alien plant control. Please note that these activities occur strictly when the need arises and cannot be guaranteed.

Typical day

  • You’ll get up early in the morning and bundle onto the back of open 4×4 vehicles and head out on a monitoring session along with your wildlife monitor and the other wildlife conservation volunteers (maximum 5 volunteers).
  • Your wildlife monitor will have specific animals he or she needs to monitor. A radio telemetry is used to locate the animals with tracking collars. You will be properly trained to use the telemetry equipment and after a few days, you’ll be doing the telemetry tracking yourself.
  • Once you’ve located the animal you will map the sighting using a handheld GPS device and update identity kits if necessary. You’ll also need to document behavioral notes used in Wildlife ACT’s research. The species you’ll monitor include critically endangered species such as the African wild dog (painted dog), cheetah, black rhino and vulture. You’ll also do incidental monitoring of focal species such as elephant, white rhino, hyena, and leopard.
  • You’ll usually be back by late morning when there will be time to relax, read, write in your journal, have a nap or watch the abundant bird and animal life which occurs around the camp.
  • You’ll then head out again in the late afternoon and will be normally back in camp shortly after sunset to start preparing supper. Most meals are enjoyed sitting around the campfire, listening to the sounds of the bush and discussing the day’s activities. After a long day, you’ll be in bed early, excited for the day ahead!
  • At least once a week, you’ll have a day set aside to input the information you’ve gathered into the computer and make an analysis of the data.

Training and skills you will learn

All training will be via practical tuition in the field. The skills you will gain are:

  • A firm understanding of conservation issues facing endangered species across Africa
  • How to collect animal behavior data and how this data is extrapolated and used to inform and enhance management objectives on these reserves, as well as other reserves across Africa
  • How to produce animal identification kits
  • How to set up and use camera traps to monitor certain endangered species
  • How to track animals using traditional methods like the identification and following of animal spoor
  • The proper use of telemetry tracking equipment
  • The use of hand-held GPS devices

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park was established in 1895 and is one of the oldest game reserves in Africa. The park is 960 square kilometers / 96,000 hectares and contains an immense diversity of fauna and flora. Due to the size of the protected area, logistically it is divided into two management sections: namely the Hluhluwe Section and iMfolozi Section, but the two sections are not separated by fences and are managed together as “one natural system”.

Mkhuze Game Reserve

Mkhuze Game Reserve was proclaimed in 1912 and celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2012. It now constitutes the north-western section of the “iSimangaliso Wetland Park” (which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site).

A place of great beauty and high contrasts, Mkhuze’s 40,000 hectares are renowned for an astonishing diversity of natural habitats, from the foothills of the Ubombo Mountains along its north-western boundary to broad stretches of acacia Savannah, swamps, a variety of woodlands and riverine forests as well as a rare type of sand-forest.

The Mkhuze River, with a beautiful stretch of fig forest along its banks, curves along the Reserve’s northern and eastern borders. Mkhuze Game Reserve is a Big 5 Reserve, due to the re-introduction of Lions to the Reserve in 2013.

Tembe National Elephant Park

Situated in Northern Zululand and adjoining the Mozambique border, Tembe National Elephant Park is most widely known for having over 200 of the world’s largest elephants, which are also the last remaining indigenous herd in KwaZulu-Natal and includes the legendary big “tuskers.” Tuskers are elephants whose enormous tusks weigh more than 45 kilograms.

Somkhanda Game Reserve

Somkhanda Game Reserve is a community-owned game reserve managed by “Wildlands Conservation Trust” in partnership with the Gumbi Community. Somkhanda is the first community-owned reserve to be proclaimed under the Protected Areas Management Act, meaning that this community has committed their land to biodiversity conservation for the foreseeable future. Somkhanda is supported by the WWF “Black Rhino Range Expansion Project”, and has a healthy population of both black rhinos and white rhinos that Wildlife ACT helps to monitor.

Zululand Rhino Reserve (ZRR)

Zululand Rhino Reserve (ZRR) lies within the Msunduzi Valley in northern Zululand. The area falls under the Mkuze Valley Low-veld vegetation type, varying from open savanna thorn-veld, bush-veld to riverine woodland, characterized by Acacia and Marula tree species. The reserve has over 70 mammal species and an exceptional diversity of bird-life.

During this conservation, you will enjoy 3 daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner which will be made by yourself. At every camp, Wildlife ACT has a communal kitchen where volunteers prepare their own meals. You’ll have an oven, stove-top, microwave, solar cooker and of course a fire to cook on. Most of the time volunteers take turns preparing meals, or one person becomes the “chef” and the others help with chopping, peeling and cleaning.

Sometimes, volunteers have different tastes and cook separately, which is also fine. Wildlife ACT takes volunteers into town to shop for groceries every week or two weeks. They then stock up on everything you will need. As far as possible, they try to be environmentally friendly e.g. Wildlife ACT doesn’t buy tinned tuna and they use as much game venison as possible.

  • 13 nights' accommodation
  • Animal sighting mapping
  • Behavioral documentation
  • Daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Monitoring sessions
  • Telemetry tracking
  • Training and skills lessons

Arrival by airplane

Richards Bay Airport (RCB) is the closest airport. Johannesburg is approximately 600 kilometers from Richards Bay Airport (RCB), which is 8 or 9-hour drive. The connecting flight from Johannesburg to Richards Bay takes about 1 hour 30 minutes. So please arrive at Richards Bay Airport (RCB).

When you arrive at Richards Bay Airport (RCB), you will be collected by an organized responsible transfer company with a sign. All arriving conservation volunteers will be transported by the transfer company to a central meeting point, where you will be met by your respective Wildlife ACT wildlife monitors, who will then take you into the reserve, on the back of a monitoring vehicle.

Please ensure that you book one of the following flights arriving in Richards Bay at:

  • 07:20, 09:20, 10:20, 11:25 or 14:30, on the Monday of your arrival.
  • The 14:30 arrival flight is perfect since the transport company arrives to collect at 14:30.
  • The deposit is fully refundable if the booking is cancelled up to 2 days before the arrival date.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid on arrival.

Testimonials

  • Review by Sophie James
    9 out of 10

    "If you are thinking of booking, do it. You will not regret it! I can’t thank the team at Wildlife Act enough. They conducted themselves extremely professionally yet they made you feel very comfortable, at home, and up-most part of their team! Bronwen has amazing organizational skills and will try to meet all your requirements! I will not lie: it is hard work; as they say, it’s Zululand not Disneyland. There are very early mornings, late lunches and late evenings, but when you see the animals healthy day-to-day and help them when they are most in need, I can promise it’s the most rewarding thing! You’ll come home with a different perspective on life. If you are looking to be part of real conservation, then this is the project for you! I searched high and low to find a reputable project and was so glad I came across this one! I credit all of you at Wildlife Act for the work you do day in, day out! Thanks again!"

    Wildlife Act website, edited

  • Review by Tamara Mercer Medsker
    9 out of 10

    "If you had told me two months ago I would PAY to get up before dawn, ride on bumpy roads in the back of an open truck in 50 degree weather, struggle through a water shortage, marinade in bug spray to avoid mozzi bites, drag dead aromatic carcasses around (all in the name of conservation), and live without TV, music, and a lot of times, Internet, I would have called you crazy! If you asked me if I was ready to go back today – I would ask how soon could I leave?!"

    "Wildlife ACT is simply phenomenal. From emailing before my departure, to organizing every transport Monday, answering all my questions and providing a truly ethical conservation experience – they by far exceeded all my expectations. Long mornings, short mid-day breaks, and long evenings were never boring and worth every moment. At times it was heart-breaking, other times amusing, but at all times an experience I will never regret or forget. The accommodations are simple and adequate. Trust me, exhausting days make the beds FEEL like heaven! The food is more than enough and I lost 5lbs I believe because of the very lean venison we ate daily! The training is hands-on and all the monitors are patient and helpful. The days are long, BUT I can honestly say my four weeks was not long enough. If a safari is on your bucket-list, and you don’t need 5 star accommodations, take your experience further by being part of a global concern – endangered species conservation. Join Wildlife ACT for an adventure of a lifetime!"

    Wildlife ACT website, edited

  • Review by Suna Huls
    9 out of 10

    "It was the best and most amazing experience I ever had! The monitors are amazing, the work that we do is so much fun and important, and Africa is amazing itself. Everything is taken care of and the camps are just perfect. I will definitely visit Wildlife Act again!"

    Wildlife Act website, edited

  • Review by Mirjam van Driel
    9 out of 10

    "I hereby want to thank Wildlife Act for the amazing time I had while volunteering in ZRR and Tembe. It was an absolutely amazing experience I will never forget. All the staff members I met were just great. All very dedicated, passionate, professional, and friendly! They all involved us closely in whatever needed to be done and I never got the feeling we were “just volunteers”. It really was a hands-on experience and I have learned so much! I loved every second of it. I am definitely coming back!"

    Wildlife Act website, edited

Cape Town, South Africa

Wildlife Africa Conservation Team (Wildlife ACT) is a dedicated team of conservationists aimed at expanding the monitoring of endangered wildlife species within Southern Africa.

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