People follow a conservation volunteer path for many reasons and we love the diversity of personality and character that makes our work more interesting. For some it is to gain knowledge, other it is to fulfill a dream, and for some it is for the experience during a gap year or to simply see lions and African wild dogs in the wild. For many, being a conservation volunteer is also about giving back and in a way “sow what has been reaped”.
So Many Have Such Fond Memories of Being a Conservation Volunteer
Not only do we need your help – setting up call-up sites, carrying 250kg lions during relocations, extra eyes for spotting un-collared animals, camp maintenance, pictures for ID kits, data entry and telemetry work – but the money spent in taking this journey feeds directly back to us on the ground. This is used to pay salaries, fuel for monitoring, collars for animals, equipment, supplies for camp maintenance, tyres for vehicles and much, much more.
But the greater picture adds into the economy of South Africa too – not only is conservation and communities benefiting directly from you being here – but companies such as Igula (company that transports volunteers to the projects) airlines and airports (Richard’s bay is a tiny speck on the world traveller’s map), restaurants and craft shops all depend on this journey. So, the next time you fly and stop and travel and meet people on the way, think of what you are giving back as you travel. It is often the unseen and unnoticed that is all around us.
And if you feel that this is not enough, then perhaps take a leaf out of some previous conservation volunteers who came up with some ingenious ways to add to their trip-of-a-lifetime. Pre-departure – by visiting a thrift store and buying all or most of your clothes for the trip there. Then on your last day, leaving behind what you don’t want to take back with you. This all finds its way into the community (in Tembe via Fakazile who helps with camp cleanliness) and directly benefits the very people who surround and support the conservation work we do – the community.
Other options are looking at bringing a few pens or writing books that can be used in the Somkhanda Bush camps or given to the schools surrounding the various parks. All these small benefits (great for those who receive them) add into the overall ethical and holistic approach in conservation.
Can you think of any other ideas as a conservation volunteer that might seem small, but have a large impact and can easily be done?