As wildlife conservationists in the field, we are extremely privileged to observe endangered wild animals in their natural habitats. However, conservation work is not always so glamorous. Most often it includes getting our hands dirty behind the scenes. Wildlife ACT volunteers in the uMkhuze section of iSimangaliso Wetland Park, recently assisted Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife staff with maintaining the boma.
What is a boma used for and how does it help conservation? A boma is a fenced enclosure where animals are kept safe for management purposes, including medical treatment or before introduction into a new reserve to provide the animals or animals with time to adapt to their new surroundings before release.
Rainfall in April caused the vegetation to grow rapidly, making it difficult for monitors to observe animals through the lush bush in the uMkhuze boma. In such a fenced-off area within a wildlife reserve where natural herbivores are excluded, it is also necessary to actively manage the vegetation to resemble the surrounding, natural ecosystem as far as possible.
In this line of work, one must always anticipate and be ready for whatever may happen next, including keeping a boma clean and ready for use when needed. Over the span of three weeks we were busy clearing the boma of excess vegetation, cleaning the water troughs, and ensuring that no plants were growing too close to the fence which might cause a short in the electrics.
With a few scrapes and bruises to tell the tale of hard work, it is rewarding to look back and see the results of our labour, knowing that it contributes directly to the success of endangered species conservation.
Text & photos by Wildlife ACT monitor Anel Olivier