Everything you need to know
A four week course offering practical, hands-on training, underpinned by course material carefully developed by experts. Provides a unique understanding of the most up-to-date, in-field conservation techniques and practices, for nature enthusiasts or those considering a career in conservation. Includes practical Big 5 monitoring, data collection and research, learning about wildlife management and ecological principles, supporting research goals on the reserve, and engaging in habitat and reserve management activities as part of Wildlife ACT’s ongoing conservation programmes.
Endangered & Priority Species Conservation & Habitat Management Course
Wildlife ACT’s 28 day long Endangered and Priority Species Conservation and Habitat Management Course is for those seeking practical, hands-on training, underpinned by course material carefully developed by experts. The course provides you with a unique understanding of the most up-to-date, in-field conservation techniques and practices, while exploring and contributing to important wildlife conservation work on the famous Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, known to be the birthplace of modern wildlife conservation in Africa.
The Conservation Training Course Modules are:
– Wildlife Monitoring
– Camera Trapping
– Tracking and Spoor
– Conservation and Habitat Management
– Game Capture and Relocation
– Wildlife Crime and Illegal Trade
– Communities and Conservation
About Wildlife ACT
Wildlife ACT is an award-winning conservation organization that specializes in endangered and priority species conservation across Africa.
To achieve this goal we:
- Work with conservation management authorities to develop and implement relevant monitoring and research programmes according to national standards and species conservation strategies;
- Provide expertise and support towards relocations and reintroductions of endangered and priority species;
- Develop and fund next generation tracking, anti-poaching and data management technology;
- Provide dedicated support towards focal species emergency response situations;
- Form part of relevant working and advisory groups in Africa;
- Drive the publication of relevant, management-oriented research findings;
- Connect people from communities adjacent to protected areas to nature and wildlife conservation, empowering them and removing barriers to entry into conservation and the wildlife economy.
All Wildlife ACT staff go through a comprehensive training programme before being assigned to field positions on the various conservancies and protected areas we work on. Following continued requests from previous volunteers, interns and research students who expressed a desire to join our staff training programme, Wildlife ACT has adapted our field-staff training programme and developed our course in endangered and priority species conservation and habitat management.
The conservation training course provides nature enthusiasts and those considering a career in conservation with the opportunity to train in parallel with Wildlife ACT staff in order to attain a practical skill-set as well as theoretical understanding of what it takes to become a field conservationist. The on-the-job training also gives you the opportunity to be a part of day-to-day conservation management initiatives on the world famous Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park – the oldest proclaimed protected area in Africa and the place where the White Rhino was saved from certain extinction in the 20th century.
As part of our vision to create a center of learning excellence, Wildlife ACT hosts small groups for those who wish to gain both practical and academic experience within the conservation field, as well as to provide educational experiences for nature enthusiasts.
Wildlife ACT has created a 28 day programme designed to expose students to the various facets of African wildlife conservation and game reserve management. You will be involved in practical Big 5 monitoring, data collection and research whilst learning about wildlife management and ecological principles. In addition to supporting monitoring, and in some cases, research goals on the reserve, you will engage in habitat and reserve management activities that are part of Wildlife ACT’s ongoing conservation programmes.
Wildlife ACT’s main focus in the Hluhluwe Section of HiP has always included the monitoring of the African Wild Dogs, Lion, Cheetah and Elephant populations. During these monitoring sessions, any incidental sightings of other priority species including Rhino, Vultures and Leopard, are also recorded. Over time, through this hard dedicated work, a more hands on approach has been requested to aid HiP in behind the scenes conservation management. Wildlife ACT students will now, in addition to these components, also be involved in the logistical management of the above mentioned methodologies and surveys.
What will you do and learn?
Working in association with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, our combined expertise allows us to incorporate a unique bush-learning experience while you participate in the day-to-day tasks and operations on a Big 5 reserve and in ongoing monitoring and research projects. The conservation training course balances instructor-led learning with practical field-work.
Students will learn and be competent in the following skills before they leave:
- Review of Monitoring Development: Modern monitoring techniques, technology and equipment, effective data collection and management, as well as monitoring ethics.
- Specific Species Monitoring: African Wild Dog, Cheetah, Lion, Leopard, Rhino, Elephant and Vultures
- Ethology: Social systems, senses, communication, learning, protective behavior, home ranges and territories, anticipating behavior.
- Pre-field work (survey type and setup preparation)
- In the field (considerations, security and details)
- Post setup (identification, analysis and photo tagging)
Tracking and Spoor
- Observing and interpreting
- Identifying different types of animal track and sign: arboreal, terrestrial and aerial
Conservation and Habitat Management
- Vegetation surveys: quadrant sampling, line intercept sampling, point intercept sampling, fix point photographic sampling techniques (identifying main habitat types within the study areas, by identifying different types of grass, shrub and tree species)
- Game Count Surveys: Road strip counts, aerial counts, walking transects and individuals counts as well as data entry thereof (understanding and identifying different ungulate herd demographics)
- Animal population control
- Fire as a management tool
- Soil erosion and preventative methods
- Bush encroachment and alien plant control methods and techniques
Game Capture and Relocation
- Purpose and necessity (genetic populations, injuries or carrying capacity)
- Capture methods
- Boma management
Wildlife Crime and Illegal Trade
- Wildlife trafficking and its’ consequences on the environment
- Conflict with communities
- Ecotourism and how it fits in
- Anti-poaching baseline approach
- Community conservation aspects and surrounding outreach programs (Wildlife Ambassador club, adult conservation seminars)
- Environmental education with kids camps
- Wildlife co-existence monitoring
Who Should Join?
Anyone from the ages of 18 to 65+ is welcome to join this Endangered and Priority Species Conservation and Habitat Management course. Individuals with a keen interest in furthering their knowledge of not only wildlife monitoring, but also wildlife management and the material behind wildlife conservation, are encouraged to apply to join. What is required is to be;
- In good physical condition (able to walk in the field for a minimum of 2 hours and be able to withstand being in the field during peak-day heat if an event requires)
- Able to understand, communicate and write in English
- Open-minded with an enthusiastic attitude and with the passion to want to make a difference
- Have a basic ecological or conservation background (be it prior courses, diplomas and degrees or previous experiences) in wildlife and habitat conservation. This will help being able to easily pick up concepts (theoretical and practical) with the project requirements.
During the orientation of your first few days at camp, all Health and Safety aspects will be covered in detail. Please bear with us regarding the Health and Safety; it is there to protect you and ensure you are aware of all the risks and is an important aspect to the orientation.
PLEASE NOTE THAT WILDLIFE ACT STAFF ARE NOT QUALIFIED TO GIVE OUT MEDICAL ADVICE
- Malaria: The surrounding areas are malarial so we recommend you take prophylactics. Consult your GP for guidance. The camp is in a low risk malaria area.
- Physical Fitness: The physical aspects are not overly challenging, but a reasonable level of fitness is recommended as the weather can be extremely humid and you will be working outside for a large portion of the time.
Health & Safety
- Field Base Safety: All members will be informed of the risks, health and safety procedures for the field base on arrival. It is imperative that everyone both understands and respects them.
- Personal Safety: Look after your important documents and take a separate photocopy with you. Do not wear excessive jewelry or walk around areas outside camp with valuable items on display e.g. cameras. Do not carry large amounts of cash.
Where Will I Stay?
Hluhluwe students are based at the Hluhluwe research camp, which is located on top of a hill in a coastal scarp forest. The research camp is shared with other scientists and researchers carrying out studies in the Park, although their rooms are separate from our Wildlife ACT participants.
On arrival at the Wildlife ACT Hilltop campus, you will get time to settle in and unpack. During the first days Wildlife ACT course instructors will go through an orientation programme to familiarize you with all aspects of the course. The below provides some information to assist with this orientation process to make you aware of some of the camp structures, facilities and rules and regulations.
Accommodation & Facilities
Our Wildlife ACT students are accommodated in twin rooms, each with a desk and shelving/cupboard space for your belongings. Accommodation is shared with other researchers so students will share toilet and shower facilities. There is also a communal kitchen and barbecue area.
The camp is situated within walking distance from the main tourist camp – “Hilltop Camp”, which is open to the general public and has a restaurant, small shop and swimming pool.
Internet & Communication
Please be aware that mobile reception in and around campus is very limited due to the isolation of the campus, and signal and connectivity problems are sometimes experienced. We recommend the use of Vodacom SIM cards for the best network coverage for the area.
Meals and Food
Meal preparation and food is all on a help-yourself basis. There is basic food supplied, however, if you require any “luxury” items, these will be at your own expense. There is a designated trip into town one day per week, thus food needs to last the full week.
Meat-free Mondays: South Africa is joining the global move to encourage people to have one day a week free of meat. It’s a small move with a big impact on the environment, on animals and on health. Wildlife ACT supports the Meat-free Monday conservation initiative. Every Monday, we encourage your meals to be free of meat.
Vegetarian Meals: Wildlife ACT endeavors to supply healthy, balanced ingredients to our vegetarian students, however, please note that due to the area in which the camp is located, as well as local cultures and customs and food budgets, it is not always possible to supply many vegetarian substitutes. Expensive items, such as tofu and soya milk, will be up to the student to purchase. Please make sure you inform us of any dietary requirements BEFORE joining the course. The Wildlife ACT kitchen may not be prepared for ‘surprise vegetarians’ upon arrival.
Wildlife ACT endeavors to conform with any previously-disclosed dietary requirements, however, please note only dietary requirements for medical reasons will be catered for. We unfortunately cannot cater for specific weight loss or fitness diets unless medically important.
Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (HiP) was established in 1895 and is one of the oldest Game Reserves in Africa. The park is 960 km² / 96,000 hectares and contains an immense diversity of fauna and flora. Due to the size of the protected area, logistically it. . .
uMkhuze 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, uMkhuze’s 40,000 hectares. . .
Situated in Northern Zululand, and adjoining the Mozambique border, Tembe 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. . .
Please note that our conservation work on Somkhanda Game Reserve is largely non-volunteer based but is where the majority of our Community Outreach work takes place throughout the year. At certain times of the year, Somkhanda Game Reserve Management do request a team of. . .
*Ithala Game Reserve is one of several sites for our unique Leopard Survey project. Our leopard team moves across a few reserves throughout the year spending two months at a time on each. Ithala Game Reserve is situated near Louwsberg in northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa,. . .
Manyoni Private Game Reserve (previously known as Zululand Rhino Reserve) 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.. . .
North Island in the Seychelles is a tropical island paradise – a rare sanctuary for those seeking island and marine conservation activities on a gorgeous, unspoiled tropical haven. More importantly, it is a Noah’s Ark: a sanctuary where natural habitats are being rehabilitated and. . .
*The Eastern Shores is one of several unique areas where our Leopard Survey project takes places. Our leopard team moves across a few reserves throughout the year spending two months at a time on each. The Eastern Shores extend from St Lucia through to. . .
What Do I Need?
- Walking boots essential for everyday use.
- Sun Cream. You will be spending a fair amount of time in the sun so please bring adequate sun protection. It is recommended that you apply a higher block than usual (30-45 SPF). The African sun is very strong and you could burn easily if you are not used to it.
- Water Bottle (essential). Ideally 1.5 – 2 litre capacity.
- Long trousers and long-sleeve shirts as in all subtropical areas, insects can be a nuisance, especially in the evening.
- Fleece and/or warm jumpers, hat and gloves (African winter months, May to August).
- Sun Hat. The sun is very strong and a wide-brimmed hat is essential.
- Sun Glasses. A good quality pair of sunglasses is recommended. Make sure they offer 100% UV protection. If you do not wear sunglasses it may advisable to bring a pair of glasses with plastic lenses or safety glasses as these help to keep dust/insects/branches out of eyes.
- Medical Kit. It is always useful to carry a small personal medical kit. This should include: Plasters, wound dressings and bandages, personal medication to last the duration of your stay, anti-histamine cream/ tablets, fungicidal foot power/cream, antiseptic cream/solution, Imodium tablets (x30) and rehydration (e.g. dioralyte) sachets (x 20), mild pain killers (eg. Paracetamol), tweezers, scissors, anti-nausea and anti-diarrheal tablets etc. Emergency travel kits can be purchased at most pharmacies and outdoor pursuit shops.
- Waterproof/windproof Poncho or waterproof top and trousers recommended in summer months (September to April expeditions). A wind-proof jacket is also essential throughout the year, particularly in the July to September windy.
- A good pair of binoculars will really add to your experience. A magnification of 8x, 10x or 12x is recommended.
- Reference or field guide books listed
- Torch/Flashlight. A head torch is required for night research and is recommended over a normal hand-held torch (LED lamps will make your batteries last far longer).
- Please bring pens, pencils, pocket-sized notepads and A4 notebook, which are essential for taking notes during class and on practicals. All other learning materials will be supplied.
Recommended Equipment List
Please note that the following equipment list is only as a guide.
- A day-pack/rucksack is recommended for everyday use.
- Malaria Tablets. Please consult your doctor, pharmacy or travel clinic for recommended prophylactics.
- Insect Repellent. If you are allergic to repellents, seek advice from your GP. You may also benefit from bringing tick repellent (Bayticol or Mylol) with you.
- Swimming Costume.
- Camera (would be an advantage for taking pictures for animal / bird identification, as well as for track and sign identification).
- If you have a laptop, please feel free to bring it with you. It will be easier to make notes after class sessions or for study sessions.
Other Personal Items (not essential)
- Batteries for any electrical appliances (head torch etc)
- Any snacks etc. as there are no shops in the immediate area!
- It’s advisable to bring sufficient toiletries as the surrounding shops do not offer much diversity of products
Dates & Costs