- Perform critical and essential conservation work alongside animals experts
- Trach and monitor the African wildlife in their natural habitat
- Explore the biodiverse wildlands of South Africa
- Gain new skills and help save the African wildlife
Zululand is recognized as one of the most biodiverse wildlands in Africa, with much of it declared a World Heritage Site. Conservation volunteers work across 5 unique parks – most of them nationally proclaimed reserves. For every 2 weeks that you join us as a volunteer, you have the opportunity to live and work on a different park. Our work focuses on endangered and priority species including the African Wild Dog, Cheetah, Rhino, Lion, Elephant, Leopard and Vulture.
Africa has over 400 known endangered animal species. Tracking and monitoring of endangered species is a critical step in the conservation of these animals. Many game reserves do not have the capacity to run effective wildlife monitoring programmes. Wildlife ACT provides free tracking and monitoring services to game reserves in Zululand, South Africa, both by initiating, implementing and managing monitoring projects on reserves that don’t have monitoring programmes in place; or by taking over existing monitoring projects on reserves that can no longer fund or manage them.
Wildlife ACT conducts intensive endangered species monitoring work in Zululand, South Africa and volunteers are an integral part of the exciting conservation work that we do. Wildlife monitoring is essential for keeping track of animal movement patterns, habitat utilisation, population demographics, snaring and poaching incidents and breakouts. This valuable information, which Wildlife ACT and our volunteers gather, has numerous management applications, including the planning of successful introduction and removal strategies of priority wildlife species.
This requires our wildlife monitors and conservation volunteers to go out into the reserve every day and find these animals using either VHF tracking equipment or conventional spoor tracking techniques. We also develop photo and illustrated identikits of all the species we help monitor. Our projects have all been approved and contracted directly by the Management Authority of each reserve and national park, to perform critical and essential conservation work for those reserves.
What Will Volunteers Do?
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 our movements and activities are entirely regulated by the animals that we monitor.
A typical day as a conservation volunteer:
You’ll get up early in the morning and bundle onto the back of our open 4×4 vehicles and head out on a monitoring session along with your wildlife monitor and the other wildlife conservation volunteers (max 5).
Your wildlife monitor will have specific animals he or she needs to monitor. 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 behavioural notes used in our research. The species we monitor include critically endangered species such as the African Wild Dog (Painted Dog), Cheetah, Black Rhino and Vulture. We also do incidental monitoring of focal species such as Elephant, White Rhino, Hyena and Leopard.
We’re usually 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.
We head out again in the late afternoon and we’re 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, we’re usually in bed early, excited for the day ahead!
At least once a week we have a day set aside to input the information we’ve gathered into the computer and make an analysis of the data.
Wildlife ACT’s conservation volunteers prepare their own meals, and are responsible for general cleaning and maintenance in the camp.
NOTE: 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 re-introduction 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).