15 Jun 2017
Wildlife volunteer – FAQ’s
Wildlife ACT was founded and has always existed to support real conservation work where it is needed most. People and organizations within the conservation community have noticed this, and it is evidenced by the fact that Wildlife ACT is the only volunteer organization in South Africa that is supported by and that works with the likes of the WWF, the Endangered Wildlife Trust, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Panthera, the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project, and Wildlands Conservation Trust.
Below is a database of questions frequently asked by people interested in volunteering with Wildlife ACT – mostly specific to our Zululand Projects. If your question is not answered here, please submit your query to firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: Why do I have to PAY to Volunteer?
Numerous game reserves within South Africa cannot afford to fund a dedicated monitoring team within their boundaries due to budget limitations and cuts – especially within provincial reserves. Wildlife ACT has come to these reserves with the proposal to provide this essential priority species monitoring service free of charge, in order to ensure the safety of these endangered species – especially the Wild Dogs.
Our projects have been approved and contracted directly by the management authority of each reserve – to perform critical and essential conservation work for those reserves – at no cost to the reserve themselves. We are therefore 100% dependent on funding from paying eco-volunteers in order to perform the work that we are doing.
Q: Where does my Money go?
Your money (which when you work it out at a daily rate), is used to pay for your accommodation, for all the time you spend on the reserve (we rent the research camp facilities from the reserves), your 3 meals a day while you are at the Wildlife ACT camps) ; as well as for Wildlife ACT’s project running costs, such as fuel for the vehicles (that track the animals – sometimes over very large distances each day to ensure the animals’ safety), as well as for vehicle maintenance (especially tyres, which suffer many punctures on rough terrain), the tracking equipment (like the radio collars and telemetry sets), as well as basic salaries for the dedicated and hardworking wildlife monitors that tirelessly track the animals every day.
We understand that not everyone is able to afford to contribute to our projects, but we are sincerely grateful to those that are able to come and join us, and in doing so, facilitate the essential conservation work being done by our teams.
We do however now have a solution / opportunity for those discouraged by a financial road block. We have teamed up with FundMyTravel, who provides us with an online platform where you can fund-raise for your meaningful travel experience. How does it work? You create a campaign page, complete a brief profile to build trust, add a video and tell your story!
FundMyTravel has a team of dedicated staff who want to help Wildlife ACT participants reach their fundraising goals. They can provide tips and insights on the best ways to spread your word and offer sharing tools to get your campaign greater exposure through social media and email. Click the button below to learn more and get started!
Q: What will I be doing?
Volunteers can expect to work an average of about 7 hours a day (and up to 12 hours a day on really busy days). For the most part, each day will be broken up by the midday rest period between the morning and afternoon monitoring sessions; however – if there is a specific need (for example if the wild dogs escape from the protected area and need to be followed), this will be an exception to the rule and the team will be expected to spend all day out, in order to ensure the safety of the animals. Once a week, there will be an admin afternoon, where the team will stay at the research camp in order to catch up on the administrative work.
Our DAILY function/work is the telemetry tracking of the various priority species (our volunteers do this while seated on the back of an open tracking vehicle, using the telemetry equipment, each day) in order for our teams to collect data about the animals’ location and behaviour, and to ensure their safety in areas where poaching is a threat. Our volunteers who join us are taught how to use how to use telemetry and GPS equipment to locate the collared animals. That is the essential core conservation service that we provide to these reserves. Once the animals are sighted, part of the monitoring work then involves taking time to look at and record social structures, behaviour, demographics etc; as well as needing the volunteers’ assistance to take photos and identify individuals within the packs and prides. Not every animal we monitor is radio-collared, therefore we sometimes use reports from other field staff, or spoor/tracks and local knowledge to locate these animals.
Q: What does a typical day look like?
- Volunteers leave camp before sunrise (seated on the back of the open 4×4 tracking vehicle) to locate the endangered species animals that the wildlife monitor has earmarked for the morning using radio telemetry equipment that receives radio signal from the collars which are fitted onto the priority species animals. Once you have successfully sighted the animals, you will observe them for as long as necessary, record the data and then move on the next animal/species on the daily monitoring schedule.
- You will usually be back at camp by late morning to prepare some food and have a little time to relax, read, have a nap or watch the abundant bird and animal life which occurs around the camp.
- You head out again on the vehicle between 2-3pm to follow up on those animals which were not located in the morning.
- You should be back in camp shortly after sunset, to start preparing supper and sit around the fire listening to the sounds of the bush and discussing the day’s events.
Every day in the bush is different. Some days you could try very hard to find certain animals, and not see them – other days, you could go looking for certain animals, and end up seeing all the species in one morning. There are no guarantees when it comes to sightings.
Q: Do I need Travel Insurance?
As with any international travel, you are responsible to ensure that you have personal insurance to cover your time in Africa including illness, injury and loss. We suggest that you make use of existing personal insurance policies you may have, which can often be extended to include foreign travel. If not, please check with your local travel company and purchase appropriate personal travel insurance.
In the unlikely event of accident, the project is insured by “SATIB”, leaders in tourism insurance and risk management services with over 20 years of dedicated service to the tourism, hospitality and wildlife industries in Africa. SATIB are underwritten by Lloyds of London. The best emergency help is therefore at our disposal if and when we need it. In a serious medical emergency, a helicopter can be dispatched to get any of our participants to a hospital within the shortest time.
Q: Do I need to be a student in order to volunteer?
Although our projects do attract a lot of students, it is not necessary to be a student in order to volunteer with Wildlife ACT in Zululand. However, we only accept registered students in Botswana.
Q: Do I need any specific skills or qualifications to volunteer with Wildlife ACT?
For most of our projects you don’t need any specific skills or qualifications, but volunteers should have a love of nature, a sound level of fitness, and a positive attitude with an understanding and respect for other cultures, as well as a fair understanding of the English language.
Q: Will I need a Visa?
In our experience, UK citizens and some European citizens are exempt from having to obtain a visa to travel to South Africa. We suggest that you please contact your relevant travel authority or the South African embassy in your country to confirm whether you will require a visa for your visit. If a visa is required, all of our volunteers enter on a “tourism visa”, (no work permit is required). If you are subject to visa requirements, you should apply for your visa at least four weeks before your departure for South Africa, and await the outcome of your application before departing. Visas are not issued at South African ports of entry. Here is a link to our South African government’s department of home affairs website which may be helpful: www.home-affairs.gov.za (Click on “Immigration Services” and then on Non-Exempt Countries )
You can also try www.southafrica.info/travel/documents/visas.htm#need
Q: What is the age range for Wildlife ACT volunteers?
Although we work with many young people / students from all over the world, we rarely allow volunteers under the age of 18 years to join our team. We do have a wide variety of volunteers from all over the world, ranging in age from 18 years old all the way to 60+ years of age. The maximum age is really dependent on the participant’s health and ability.
Q: What do I need to pack for my time with Wildlife ACT?
- about 2 liter capacity bottle, at least – you don’t want to suffer from dehydration.)
- A small rucksack to take with you each day on the vehicle to hold your snacks, water, sunscreen, hand sanitiser, etc.
- Camera and lots of film or a large memory card – there are plenty of photo opportunities!
- A torch/flashlight/headlamp is ESSENTIAL and COMPULSORY.
- Spare batteries (for your torch/camera etc.) We encourage the use of rechargeable batteries, as opposed to disposable batteries which are not environmentally friendly.
- Cell phone if you have one (don’t forget your cell phone’s charger!)
- Plug adapters/converters for South Africa. (Our plugs here have 3 rounded prongs, 220-230V 50Hz).
- Mosquito and tick repellent.
- Mosquito net if required.
- Lotion to soothe mosquito and insect bites (e.g. Anthisan or any mepyramine cream).
- A basic personal supply of first aid items (such as painkillers, eye drops, plasters for blisters, cold capsules, allergy meds, diarrhea tablets, etc that you may need.)
- Your personal toiletries (shampoo/conditioner/soap/toothpaste etc), and any chronic / long-term medications you may require (enough to last you while you are with us).
- If you wear glasses or contact lenses, it is advisable to bring spare/back-up options.
- Swimwear (there are swimming pools in SOME of the Reserves – but only when water is available).
- A good book or two, or something to keep you occupied during your midday relaxing time.
- A travel journal, should you wish to record your experience.
- Spending money.
- There are no mosquito nets provided in the accommodation. If you have space, you are welcome to bring one with you.
- All bed linens are provided in the accommodation, but we ask that you bring your own towels.
Q: What Medicine will I need?
As we are not qualified to give medical advice, we recommend you discuss any concerns with your GP or MASTA (Medical Advisory Service for Travellers Abroad). It is advisable to confirm with your GP whether you will require Malaria medication or vaccination. A small number of volunteers have contracted African tick bite fever in the past. African tick bite fever is usually mild – serious complications are very uncommon. Symptoms can include fever, headache, malaise, and skin rash. There is no inoculation or vaccination you can take to prevent it, so you just need to make sure you use repellent every day and check for ticks regularly. (Note: In South Africa the antibiotic Doxycycline is the preferred agent for treating Tick-bite Fever. Doxycycline is also an anti-malarial drug, so while chatting to your doctor about precautionary medication, ask about Doxycycline, and you may find that you can “kill 2 birds with 1 stone.”)
Q: Do I require a Rabies Injection?
In theory, you should not need to get rabies vaccinations, as you should – theoretically – not be coming close to any of the animals. (For the most part, we view and monitor these animals from the safety of tracking vehicles). However, on occasion, these animals might need to be tranquilized for treatment or collaring, (which is undertaken by qualified and trained personnel). Volunteers on those occasions then do assist these professionals in whatever way necessary, which does mean getting close enough to the animal to touch it – although this is while the animal is under sedation.
There have also been some news reports last year of an increase in reported rabies cases among domestic dogs in KwaZulu-Natal. Having said all that, the bottom line is that we are not qualified to give medical advice, so it remains entirely your decision whether you get the vaccination. No harm in getting it if you are happy to do so! The closest doctor or hospital is 30 – 40 minutes drive from each reserve.
Q: Do I require a Yellow Fever vaccination?
International law requires travellers crossing the borders of countries where Yellow Fever is endemic, to have yellow fever vaccinations. After you have been vaccinated you will be issued with a Yellow Fever Certificate. The certificate only becomes valid ten days after vaccination, and stays valid for ten years. If you have travelled in a Yellow Fever region in the six days before you wish to visit South Africa, you will have to show your Yellow Fever Certificate when you enter the country.
Q: How much will it Cost?
Please visit each of our project pages which lists the relevant costs in the ‘Dates and Costs’ tab.
Q: How is Payment made?
Full payment is only required 4 weeks before you depart, however, a 30% deposit is necessary in order to confirm your placement. In the event of a volunteer failing to join a program or leaving prior to completion, no refunds or liability will be accepted by Wildlife ACT.
Q: Can I volunteer with a friend or a group of friends?
Of course! And we can arrange for you and your friends to be placed together. If you are a group of four, you will qualify for big discounts. If you are volunteering on your own, you can be assured that you will meet some great people.
Q: How many other volunteers will there be?
We only accept a maximum of five volunteers at a time on our South African and Seychelles game Parks or Reserves. We find this keeps the team small and efficient, as well as allowing each volunteer one-on-one time with the wildlife monitor. In Malawi we only except one volunteer at a time.
Q: Can I split my time between more than one project?
Yes you can. Wildlife ACT works on projects located across many different parks and conservancies. In Zululand alone we work across 7 different parks with varying vegetation types and different species of animals occurring on each Reserve. You can also move between countries if you like, just ask us and we’ll help make it happen. Take note, that the opportunity to work on multiple Parks depends on the length of your stay. If you stay for only 2 weeks, you will work on 1 Park / Reserve, but for every additional 2 weeks you stay, the better your chance of experiencing another Reserve.
Q: How long can I volunteer for?
You can volunteer as a part of the Wildlife ACT for any amount of time ranging from two weeks to six months. In South Africa our bookings run in multiples of 2 weeks, which means you can join us for 2, 4, 6, 8 weeks etc. In Malawi, Seychelles and Botswana our minimum period is 4 weeks followed by multiples of 2 weeks, which means you can join us for 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12. Our starting dates are every second Monday. We do this to curb our carbon footprint (driving out to do pick-ups and drop-offs at the airport as little as we can) and to minimize our time away from doing monitoring work.
Q: How safe is the Environment we will be working in?
It is important to note that we do work with large, wild and potentially dangerous African animals. Almost any animal can be dangerous if it feels threatened by people. However, if you carefully follow the instructions of your wildlife monitor, there is no need for concern. For the most part, we view and monitor these animals from the safety of tracking vehicles. If you feel you may be in danger for any reason, always inform your monitor. They have full authority when you are on fieldwork. Always follow their instructions.
Q: What is the Accommodation like?
The accommodation is basic but comfortable. Most volunteers will share a twin room, with separate shared ablutions and a living/eating area. We have 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 we 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.
Q: What is the Food like?
How good is your cooking? At every camp we have 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, pealing and cleaning. Sometimes volunteers have different tastes and cook separately, which is also fine. We take volunteers into town to shop for groceries every week or two weeks. We then stock up on everything you will need. As far as possible we try to be environmentally friendly e.g. we don’t buy tinned tuna and we use as much game venison as possible.
Q: Can the projects cater for Vegetarians?
Yes. You join us when we do your shopping for you, and because you prepare your own meals in the communal kitchen it is manageable. Please make known to us your dietary requirements in your application form.
Q: What is the Weather like?
The summer season covers October to the end of April when the sun is particularly intense, and the air hot and humid, especially December through February when the average daily maximum temperature is around 35°C, with temperatures peaking at around 40°C. A warm dry winter begins in May and ends in September. Although the days are generally sunny, the nights and early mornings can be cooler so long-sleeved tops will come in handy then. The average daily maximum temperature is 25°C. There can be quite heavy dew-fall some mornings, so bring waterproof shoes if possible for walking through wet grass!
Q: How much Spending Money do I need to bring?
We cover all your accommodation, training, food and travel costs while you are a Wildlife ACT member so you don’t have to bring spending money except for your leisure time. You may want to bring some spending money for treats like chocolate and fizzy drinks, or to buy gifts to take home. Although the water at the camps is safe to drink, it does not always taste great, and some volunteers choose to buy bottled water. Spending money can also be used for leisure excursions during your free time and on weekends if you choose to take a weekend off. It is possible to withdraw cash at ATMs in most towns in South Africa, using either a VISA or MasterCard, so you don’t need to carry too much cash with you.
The distance between the reserves and any town/city is substantial, and fuel costs are high, so any driving to town for supplies is limited. When you arrive, your wildlife monitor will have done grocery shopping to provide the basic foods for the camp. You may have one trip to town during your time with us (on the Monday one week after your arrival), if your camp is running short of anything.
Your spending money will be for:
- Any leisure activities
- Purchasing gifts and curios
- Alcoholic beverages (wine, beer etc.)
- Bottled water, should you choose to drink it
- Cellphone “airtime” vouchers or calling cards
- Snacks such as chocolate, crisps, fizzy drinks etc.
- Any additional grocery items you may want that are not provided by us
- Meals eaten in restaurants / takeaways etc. on “time off” (this is only included in case the opportunity presents itself)
Depending on where you are buying them from, average prices here are as follows: Takeaway hamburgers are about ZAR45, a coca-cola is about ZAR15, a beer will cost around ZAR15, drinking water is about ZAR20 for 5 litres, and a chocolate bar is about ZAR10.
Q: Will I be able to contact my friends and family back home?
You should be able to access the internet once a week in the office. That having been said, please be aware that our internet service out here is very slow compared to international standards, and is often unreliable. Although we will do our best to provide you with the opportunity to use it when it is available, you may not always get through. We suggest that you bring your personal cellphone with you, as it is the easiest way to keep in contact with friends and family back home.
Q: What do you mean by “Priority Species”?
A priority species is any animal species which is of a management concern on a reserve we are working on, for any number of reasons. For example the African Wild Dog is of concern because it is an Endangered Species and their conservation status is critical, while on the other hand Lion and Hyena are of a concern because they impact heavily on Wild Dog numbers. By understanding the Lion and Hyena demographics and feeding ecology and by managing their populations properly we will be better able to conserve the Wild Dog. The ecological impact that a species has can also be of concern, for example high densities of African Elephant, especially on small Reserves, can have a detrimental effect on the ecosystem. We therefore need to monitor this priority species to establish the population’s demographics and feeding ecology too.
Q: How close do we normally get to the animals? Can you give an estimation of what camera lenses to bring?
Naturally we cannot say how close you will come to whatever animals you will see while you are here, since each sighting is different, and this is a wild and unpredictable environment. We would recommend at least a 300mm lens.
Q: Is a volunteer allowed to go on Hikes around the park during downtime?
No one is allowed to walk around within the reserves unless accompanied by a ranger who is qualified to deal with dangerous game on foot. This applies to the volunteer accommodation as well, as some camps are partly fenced but most are not. For this reason please remember it is very important to never leave the immediate camp area on foot, especially when it is dark, and to always use torches when moving around the accommodation at night!
Q: Are all the Priority Species in all the parks?
Wildlife ACT’s main focus in the Hluhluwe Section of HiP includes the monitoring of the African Wild Dogs, Lion and Elephant populations. During these monitoring sessions any incidental sightings of other endangered and priority species including Rhino, Cheetah, Vultures and Leopard, will also be recorded.
Wildlife ACT’s main focus in the iMfolozi Section of HiP includes the monitoring of the African Wild Dogs, as well as Lions and Cheetah. During these monitoring sessions any incidental sightings of other endangered and priority species including Rhino, Elephant, Vultures and Leopard, will also be recorded.
Wildlife ACT’s main focus on Manyoni Game Reserve is the monitoring of the African Wild Dogs, Cheetah, Elephant and Lion. During these monitoring sessions any incidental sightings of other endangered and priority species including Rhino, Vultures and Leopard, will also be recorded. Our team also occasionally assists with game counts or vegetation assessments on Manyoni.
Wildlife ACT’s main focus in uMkhuze Game Reserve is primarily on African Wild Dog, but also includes Cheetah and Lion wherever possible. During these monitoring sessions any incidental sightings of other endangered and priority species including Vultures, Rhino, Elephant and Leopard will also be recorded.
Wildlife ACT’s main focus on Tembe Elephant Park is the monitoring of the Lion and Wild Dog populations. There are two daily monitoring sessions per day focusing on Lion or Wild Dog. In addition to this there will be two sessions of Elephant monitoring during a 2-week cycle (mostly likely one Elephant monitoring session per week). During these monitoring sessions any incidental sightings of other endangered and priority species including Vultures, Rhino and Leopard will also be recorded.
NOTE: A significant and very valuable component of all wildlife monitoring is the use of camera traps since they provide extra “eyes” for us in the field – especially at night. On all our projects the regular checking and rotation of camera sites (and downloading & sorting of camera trap images) forms an integral part of the monitoring work.
Q: Will I be making a Real Difference?
All conservation efforts in Africa face tremendous challenges, including:
- Rapid encroachment and fragmentation of natural habitat
- Insufficient research and inadequate funding for monitoring and research
- as well as the problem of the existence of many endangered species…
Wildlife monitoring is essential for keeping track of animal movement patterns, habitat utilization, population demographics, snaring and poaching incidents and breakouts. The valuable information that Wildlife ACT volunteers gather, has numerous management applications, including the planning of successful introduction and removal strategies of endangered wildlife species as well as supplying information to the local conservation authorities.
Q: How much hands-on work will I experience with the animals?
We are not a “rehabilitation” facility, or sanctuary in which volunteers can ‘handle’ the animals.
Our function is to monitor wild animals, within their natural environments, daily (while seated on an open monitoring vehicle), and we keep our contact with them limited so that they do not get habituated to humans in any way.
On occasion these animals might need to be tranquilised for treatment or collaring, which is undertaken by qualified and trained personnel. Volunteers on those occasions then assist these professionals in whatever way necessary.
It is very difficult to predict when we will need to tranquilise animals for treatment or medical procedures. These kinds of activities happen throughout the year, strictly as and when the need for it arises. While the project does plan and follow basic schedules, the nature of the work being done dictates that the animals and their environment are our number one priority, and therefore our schedules may at times have to be altered due to unforeseen circumstances or incidents within this wild and dynamic environment.
Q: What is the Best Time of Year to Volunteer?
Zululand has a sub-tropical climate. Zululand experiences dry, mild winters between May and September, and enjoys hot, humid, rainy summers between October and April. We can of course experience milder weather from time to time, and there is also a wind-chill factor on the back of the open vehicle, especially in the early mornings, so it is advisable to bring a warm jacket and long trousers in all seasons (including summer) – JUST in case.
As a conservation volunteer, you will be waking up early throughout the year, to leave camp before the sun rises. The sun comes up at around 04:00 AM in Summer, as opposed to it rising at about 06:00 AM in Winter.
ZULULAND WINTER (June – July) :
Winters in the bush are generally mild and dry – there is less rain and the vegetation is less dense, making general animal sightings more frequent. Temperatures very rarely drop below 10-15 degrees Celsius overnight. However, the wind will be very cold on the back of the open vehicle as you drive through the bush before sunrise, tracking the priority species animals. We suggest that you bring a thick, warm jacket with a hood, as well as clothes to layer under if you need to, as well as gloves, a woolly hat, and something like a scarf to cover your face while sitting on the back of the open vehicle in the early mornings, as the wind in your face can be cold! By midday, however, the days are generally warm and sunny (20-25 degrees) with, theoretically, no rain. If you are joining us in winter, please bring warm sleeping attire (including comfy warm socks) and/or a hot water bottle, as there is no central heating in the accommodation here in Zululand, and nights can be surprisingly cold if you are accustomed to climate-controlled rooms. (Tip: You could also take the hot water bottle with you on the vehicle in the mornings).
ZULULAND SPRING (August – September) :
During Springtime in the bush, the temperatures are around 20-25 degree Celsius at midday, and around 15-20 degrees Celsius overnight. Cold spells do occur from time to time, so bring clothes that you can layer up if you need to keep warm, as it will heat up again by midday and layers are the most practical. August is our very windy month, as Winter takes its leave and the mornings begin to warm up, and by September we are back up to temperatures of 30+ degrees Celsius at midday, although the nights do cool down pleasantly.
ZULULAND SUMMER (October – March) :
The Zululand Summer is very hot and humid, with midday temperatures in mid-summer averaging 30 degrees Celsius but at times peaking around 35-40 degrees Celsius. For this reason, we advise that you pack plenty of sunscreen (factor 50 or higher), and a hat or peak cap, as well as a large water bottle to keep yourself hydrated during the day. Overnight temperatures remain at around 25 degrees Celsius.
Summer is our rainy season, and afternoon/evening thunderstorms occur, which is something incredible to experience in Africa – please bring a rainproof jacket (with a hood) and rainproof trousers, as you will be seated on the back of an open vehicle and you may find yourself caught in a summer rain shower! After the first rains (which usually start around November), the wild flowers then begin to bloom and the new grass emerges in a brilliant display of green. There are usually also plenty of young animals (impala lambs, warthog piglets, wildebeest calves, etc) around during these months. Although rain is sometimes challenging in terms of getting the work done, please remember how absolutely VITAL the rainfall is for the reserves on which we work!
ZULULAND AUTUMN (April – May)
During the Zululand Autumn (also known as “Fall” to some of you), the temperatures are usually around 20-25 degrees Celsius at midday, and around 15-20 degrees Celsius overnight. Cold spells do occur from time to time, so bring clothes that you can layer up if you need to keep warm, as it will heat up again by midday and layers are the most practical.
The only time that the Wild Dogs are seen less frequently, is when they settle into den sites to have their pups. They USUALLY start denning around May, and the pups will generally emerge from the dens about 4-6 weeks later. NOTE – These dates are APPROXIMATE INDICATIONS, and exact denning times will always vary.
“This is Zululand, not Disneyland”
Occasionally our volunteers may experience a few difficulties in adjusting to life in the bush. To that end, we have included a few guidelines of things that may disrupt your sense of comfort, but that are simply part of life in Africa and unfortunately not things we can easily change. We ask that you bear with us and understand that we face these difficulties with you while you stay, and continue to face them after you are gone!
- Water may at times run out. Zululand, and Africa as a whole, struggles with water supplies, especially in rural areas. Although it may be difficult to adjust to this if it happens, please bear with us as this is a problem we all share from time to time.
- Electricity can at times be shut off for no reason. This is a government-provided service, over which we have no control.
- Our internet service is slow and unreliable. Although we will do our best to provide you with the opportunity to use it when it is available, you may not always get through.
- The cellphone signal comes and goes.
- There will always be insects, snakes and spiders! They have just as much right, or more, to live here and we do not kill them. They are part of life in the bush.
- The distance between the reserves and any town/city is quite substantial, and fuel costs are high, so any driving to town is limited to the 2-week arrival/departure cycle.
- We understand your frustration at not being able to walk freely around the reserves during your free time. This is for your safety, so please understand the reasons behind this rule.
- Although rain is sometimes challenging in terms of getting the work done, please remember how absolutely VITAL the rainfall is for the reserves on which we work – many of these areas are drought areas and are utterly dependant on the wonderful gift of rain.
- We understand completely that you would like as much hands-on involvement as you can while you are here, since you are passionate about conservation! Activities such as collaring, relocation/reintroduction, snare removal, tranquilisation for treatment, identity marking, tagging or notching, etc happen strictly as and when the need arises, and are incredibly difficult to predict in terms of timing. When these activities do occur, the conservation work itself (tranquilising, tagging, snare removal etc) is performed by registered and qualified professionals, but we will do our utmost to ensure you get as much involvement as possible in terms of assisting these staff members in any way necessary. Being present at these activities and to be close enough to touch the animals is an unbelievable, sometimes life-changing privilege.
Baz Bus offers an affordable way to travel around South Africa: with one ticket to your destination, you can hop on and off anywhere along the route. The Baz Bus will pick you up and drop you off directly at backpackers and youth hostels. TravelPharm is a member of the National Pharmaceutical Association, a professional body providing a vast database of information and advice to pharmacists throughout the UK. Have a look at TravelPharm for malaria tablets, mosquito nets, first aid kits, insect repellents and much more. Visit Masta for up to date travel advice on vaccinations, anti-malarial drugs and other general health issues.
If you want to travel on after your placement, you may find these reasonably priced South African airlines useful:
If you are planning on travelling after your placement, this site will give you information on reasonably priced backpacker facilities within South Africa www.southafricanbackpackers.co.za
From climate to culture, find out useful information about South Africa. www.southafrica.net