WILDERNESS CONSERVATION SAFARI

This programme is an abridged version of our full 4 week programme just introduced due to public demand. Run in conjunction with a private Wilderness Reserve, the staff and volunteers are seen as an extension of the team responsible for running the reserve. During your time with us you will experience life on a game reserve and will be actively involved in all aspects thereof.

programme information
Your first week will be an orientation week during which you will participate in a number of lectures and practicals, which will provide you with the tools you will need to actively contribute to the reserve. During this time you will learn the principles and goals of the reserve and be provided with a general knowledge of conservation in south africa as well as its importance. You will also learn important bush skills such as first aid, 4x4 driving, fence maintenance etc. You will be introduced to research and monitoring programs and learn the correct methods of recording and capturing data. You will be taught how to correctly handle and care for all the equipment that will be used during your time on the reserve. During orientation week you will also be introduced to the main plant and animal species that you will be expected to be able to identify by the end of this week. You will be introduced to wilderness ethics and principles and will be taught the basic principles of field guiding. Orientation week is of great importance as your contribution for the remainder of your time with us will have a direct effect on the future well being of the reserve.

The following week will consist of 2 - 3 work sessions a day (approx 3 hrs each) where you will be involved in hands-on activities on the reserve. While we hope that your time at camp will be educational, inspiring and above all else, enjoyable, we ask you to remember that you are participating in the running of an active wilderness reserve.

The activities that you participate in require a diligent and conscientious input to ensure that you make a valuable contribution to the future of both the reserve and conservation as a whole.As a volunteer you have the opportunity to work with the researcher and will assist with all of the research and monitoring which takes place on the reserve.

Both the vegetation and the animal components of the reserve need to be managed. One of the biggest challenges that we face today is the decrease of large tracts of land required by both the indigenous plants and wild animals of our country. This puts us in the unfortunate position where many systems must be managed and manipulated by humans. In order to do this we need intimate knowledge of how all the ecosystems function. This is where the importance of research and monitoring become apparent. At any given time there are a number of projects on the go and you will be the ones collecting the data that could one day be processed into a groundbreaking new approach or discovery. This is why it is so important that all data recorded is accurate as this could form the basis of a future management model. Our ideal is to mimic the natural system as much as possible. As the old saying goes "why reinvent the wheel?" The natural processes have been hampered by human interference and this requires us to step in and "assist". Assist is, however, the keyword and this is of course very different to total control. What we are trying to do is maintain the balance that would be present in a perfect situation where there was no interference or fences. The emphasis is on the system as a whole and the influence of the animals on the environment (and vise versa) must be established.

THERE ARE BOTH SHORT TERM PROJECTS AND LONG TERM (OR ON-GOING) PROJECTS THAT TAKE PLACE ON THE RESERVE. BELOW ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF THE TYPE OF PROJECTS THAT YOU COULD EXPECT TO BE INVOLVED IN:





1. SEX / AGE RATIO ANALYSIS: ANIMAL SPECIES WILL BE MONITORED TO ESTABLISH OPTIMAL RATIO TO INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY. IN CONJUNCTION WITH ANNUAL GAME COUNTS, A MORE ACCURATE IDEA OF SPECIES POPULATION SIZES, COMPOSITION AND SEX/AGE RATIOS WILL BE DETERMINED.

2. LARGE ANIMAL DEMOGRAPHY: VOLUNTEERS COLLECT DATA IN THE FIELD AND ASSIST IN THE MAINTENANCE AND UPKEEP OF RESERVE RECORDS AND THE MAINTENANCE OF IDENTIFICATION KITS.

3. VEGETATION SURVEYS - MAPPING OF HOMOGENEOUS UNITS, MONITORING THE HERBACEOUS AND WOODY COMPONENTS ETC. MANY OF THESE ACTIVITIES ARE SEASONAL SUCH AS VELD CONDITION ASSESSMENTS (VCA'S) AND THE VOLUNTEERS ON THE RESERVE OVER THIS PERIOD WOULD ASSIST DURING THESE TIMES

4. ELEPHANT - VEGETATION IMPACT STUDY

5. ECOLOGICAL BASE LINE SURVEYS: STUDENTS WILL CONTRIBUTE TO THE COLLECTION OF DATA NEEDED TO COMPILE A RESOURCE INVENTORY

6. PREDATOR / PREY DYNAMICS: PREY SELECTION, FREQUENCY OF KILLS ETC. WILL BE MONITORED AS PREDATION INFLUENCES THE HERBIVORE COMPONENT DIRECTLY WHICH IN TURN AFFECTS THE VEGETATION OF THE RESERVE. BEING A STOCKED RESERVE THERE ARE ALSO FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS RELATED TO PREDATION

7. JACKAL FOCUS: A FOCUS TO ASCERTAIN IF THE JACKAL POPULATION ON THE RESERVE IS AS IT SHOULD BE

8. NYALA BREEDING PROJECT: ASSISTING WITH THE CURRENT NYALA PROJECT (FEEDING, MAINTENANCE AND MONITORING).

9. NOCTURNAL MAMMAL FOCUS: THE MONITORING OF THESE SPECIES OCCURS DURING NOCTURNAL DRIVES, WHEREBY VOLUNTEERS PARTICIPATE TO ACQUIRE DATA ON THE RANGING, FORAGING AND REPRODUCTIVE BEHAVIOUR OF NOCTURNAL SPECIES

10. ASSISTING WITH GAME COUNTS WHEN NEEDED
WORK ON A RESERVE IS DIVERSE, AND EACH DAY BRINGS ABOUT NEW CHALLENGES, AND DEVELOPMENTS. APART FROM THE MONITORING AND RESEARCH THAT YOU WILL BE INVOLVED IN THERE ARE ALSO A NUMBER OF OTHER ACTIVITIES WHICH YOU WILL BE REQUIRED TO PARTICIPATE IN:




1.
SLEEP OUTS / MONITORING IN REMOTE AREAS. NOT ONLY IS SLEEPING OUT IN THE WILD AN UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCE BUT THIS ALSO THIS PROVIDES MORE EYES AND EARS IN AN AREA WHICH IS BENEFICIAL AS AN ANTI - POACHING TOOL.

2. EROSION CONTROL AND HABITAT REHABILITATION: VOLUNTEERS WILL ASSIST IN ONGOING HABITAT MONITORING AND REHABILITATION INITIATIVES IN THE RESERVE, INCLUDING EROSION CONTROL, THE CONSTRUCTION OF GABIONS, BRUSH-PACKING ETC. VOLUNTEERS WILL ALSO ASSIST IN THE IDENTIFICATION OF OTHER PROBLEM AREAS AND FORMULATE PLANNING STRATEGIES FOR THEIR REHABILITATION.

3. ASSISTING WITH MAINTENANCE OF BOUNDARY FENCES AND FENCE PATROLS. THIS IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF ANY RESERVE AS THE FENCING SYSTEM IS THE BOUNDARY WHICH NOT ONLY KEEP OUR PRECIOUS RESOURCES IN BUT ALSO KEEPS UNDESIRABLES OUT.

4. REMOVAL OF INTERNAL FENCING / PENS / DROPPERS / POLES / WIRE / RUBBISH FROM OLD MINES ETC. TO GET THE RESERVE INTO PRISTINE CONDITION ALL OLD TRACES OF HUMAN HABITUATION NEED TO BE REMOVED.

5. BUILDING OF ANY REQUIRED BOMAS OR OTHER STRUCTURES.

6. PARTICIPATING IN ANTI-POACHING AND SNARE PATROLS.

7. GAME CAPTURE AND TRANSPORTATION WHERE APPLICABLE.

8. ERECTION AND MAINTENANCE OF ROADS, DAMS, BOREHOLES ETC.

9. MECHANICAL MAINTENANCE OF EQUIPMENT AND VEHICLES.

10. ALIEN VEGETATION CONTROL: THE VOLUNTEERS WILL LEARN TO IDENTIFY AND MECHANICALLY OR CHEMICALLY CLEAR STANDS OF ALIEN AND INVASIVE VEGETATION ON THE RESERVE.

11. WATER PROVISION AND MANAGEMENT.

12. BUSH ENCROACHMENT AND ITS CONTROL.

PRICE GBP 765 per person
ACCOMmODATION
Volunteers live in a fantastic, homely house within the reserve. The house accommodates a maximum of 10 volunteers and offers two spacious rooms with shared, dormitory-style sleeping arrangements. Each dormitory has its own bathroom with hot and cold water. The house also has a lounge, dining room, office, kitchen and an outside area complete with barbeque facilities. The house has electricity (the electricity is 220/230 volts AC. Plug points accommodate 15 amp, three-pin round plugs). All linen will be supplied although we do ask you to bring your own towels. There is a laundry service provided twice a week. Telephone communication on the reserve is not always guaranteed although you will have the opportunity to phone, e-mail and post letters once a week in the nearest town.

The success of your expedition will depend largely on the ability of the group to work as a team. Please consider your fellow housemates and remember that there may often be people in your group from all walks of life. You and your housemates will be responsible for the general duties around the house and the tasks such as preparing of meals will be split among you. You will be designated duties on a daily basis to ensure the smooth running of the house. For you to get the most out of the experience everyone needs to assist by pulling their weight around base. Upon arrival you will be introduced to the house rules and we ask that these rules be respected at all times.

The weather in this part of the world can be very extreme with incredibly hot weather and thunderstorms in the summer months (Sep - Feb) and very chilly mornings and nights in winter (Mar - Aug). When making a booking, you will be told what weather to expect but at anytime of year you will need to bring cool, comfortable clothing and footwear of a neutral bush colour. You will need warmer items in winter for the early mornings and evenings. A good raincoat and windbreaker are also a great help all year round. Much of your time will be spent outdoors and the African weather can be unpredictable and extreme so come prepared!

You will receive a comprehensive list of what to bring including items such as sunhats, sunscreen, insect repellant, water bottle, binoculars, sleeping bag, torch, comfortable closed walking shoes etc.
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