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WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU BOOK YOUR PLACEMENT?
Once you have applied for a placement, we'll contact you and send you our Welcome
Pack. You'll also receive Log-on details and password for our Volunteer Extranet
where you'll have access to all the documentation and information which we've put
together to facilitate preparations for your adventure! Your Project Co-ordinator
for your country will liaise with you throughout the arrangements process, as well
as while you're on your placement and on your return home.
The documents you'll have access to also include a Country Factfile, Safety Guide
and any manuals that may assist you on your particular programme (e.g. Teaching
Guide, Sports Manuals, Enrichment Suggestions for Animal Care, etc.). We do all
we can to make your stay one that you'll never forget. This is a truly awesome,
elegant and beautiful country.
On Arrival, your Introduction to the Country:
When you arrive you will be met at the airport and driven to the project site. There
you'll be welcomed by a member of the Project Team who will take you to your accommodation
and introduce you to everyone. During your first few days you'll be given an induction
so that you can learn about the country and its culture, as
well as other useful information, like how to use the transport system, banks, safety
issues, tipping, and lots more.
TRAVEL - GETTING HERE:
We'll liaise carefully with you regarding your travel arrangements, but here is
a brief indication: The easiest way is for you to book your international flight
through any airline of your choice, arriving in Johannesburg (O.R. Tambo International
Airport), and then book a connecting domestic flight from Johannesburg to Richards
Bay (our closest airport).
You should book the flight arriving in Richards Bay at 14.30 pm on the Monday of
your arrival, and the departing flight leaving Richards Bay at 15.05 pm on the Monday
of your departure.
If you have difficulty finding flights that work for our arrival schedule, you can
do what some of our other volunteers do and arrive in Richards Bay the night before
instead – we can recommend some Bed & Breakfast accommodations that will collect
you from the airport when you arrive, and then we can arrange for our transport
service to collect you from the accommodation in Richards Bay on the Monday morning.
When you arrive at Richards Bay airport, you will be collected by a project team
member, or an organised responsible transfer company with a sign. All arriving volunteers
will be transported by the transport company to a central meeting point, where you
will be met by your wildlife monitor, who will then take you the remaining distance
into the Reserve, on the monitoring vehicle. On the Monday of your departure you
will be transported back to Richards Bay airport to catch your departing flight
ABOUT THE GAME RESERVES:
Unlike other projects, The Zululand Conservation Expedition is not focused on only
1 reserve, but stretched across 5 of most famous reserves in Southern Africa. Depending
on how long you stay with us, you will get the opportunity to experience the work
done on all these reserves:
Somkhanda Game Reserve:
Somkhanda Game Reserve is a community-owned game reserve managed by “Wildlands Conservation
Trust”, in partnership with the Gumbi community. Somkhanda is the first community-owned
reserve to be proclaimed under the Protected Areas Management Act, meaning that
this community has committed their land to biodiversity conservation for the foreseeable
future. Somkhanda is supported by the WWF “Black Rhino Range Expansion Project”, and has
a healthy population of both Black
Rhinos and White Rhinos that the project funds help to monitor.
The Wildlands Conservation Trust has assisted with re-introducing a number of different
species into the reserve to
boost game numbers. African Wild Dogs were introduced to the reserve in 2014 to
fulfil the conservation objective of saving endangered species, and reintroducing
natural predation into the system. Planned future introductions include Buffalo,
Cheetah and eventually, Elephants.
Somkhanda has a critical need to ensure daily sightings of the Wild Dog pack. The
pressing need to track this particular
pack of Wild Dogs is due to the fact that Somkhanda Game Reserve suffers from an
influx of poachers from local rural communities, who consistently trespass onto
the reserve to set snares with the intention of catching bush meat (mostly antelope).
Tragically, these snares have a large unintended by-catch, which includes any unsuspecting
animal that walks into the snares – including Rhino, Elephant, and very often the
Wild Dogs since they cover such large distances daily in search of food.
For this reason it is absolutely vital that the monitoring team devotes the majority
of their time to locating the Wild
Dog pack each morning and evening, to ensure that all the dogs are accounted for
and unharmed. This does involve early starts to the day, and getting back late to
camp in the evening, but is a crucial part of the work we are doing!
SOMKHANDA RESEARCH CAMP ACCOMMODATION: Somkhanda volunteers are housed in a large
house within the reserve, and the
camp offers twin rooms, an indoor bathroom and toilet, a large kitchen and a braai
(barbecue) area. The water is good for drinking, and the house has electricity and
hot water. Due to limited cellphone (mobile) signal in the area, the “Cell-C” mobile
network receives the best signal.
The main focus on Somkhanda is to assist with the daily monitoring of African
Wild Dog and Rhinos, as well as general biological monitoring of other priority
species (Vultures, Hyaenas, Leopards) and the compilation of species lists.
Mkhuze Game Reserve:
A place of great beauty and high contrasts, Mkhuze is renowned for its astonishing
diversity of natural habitats, from the eastern slopes of the Ubombo Mountains along
its north western boundary, to broad stretches of acacia savannah, swamps, a variety
of woodlands and riverine forests as well as a rare type of sand forest. The Mkhuze
River, with a beautiful stretch of fig forest along its banks, curves along the
Reserve's northern and eastern borders.
The Mkhuze Game Reserve constitutes the north western spur of the recently declared
World Heritage Site: the Isimangaliso
Wetland Park. The Reserve offers an abundance of wildlife including Endangered species
such as Black Rhino, Cheetah, African Wild Dog and Suni. Other animals to be found
in the Reserve include White Rhino, Elephant, Buffalo, Giraffe, Leopard, Nyala,
Blue Wildebeest, Hyaena, Warthog, Zebra, Kudu and other smaller antelope. Mkhuze
has no Lions on the Reserve. Mkhuze is also famous for its rich birdlife and attracts
ornithologists from all over the world.
Two beautiful pans, Nhlonhlela and Nsumo, which lie in the north and east respectively,
support large communities of
Hippos, Crocodiles, Pinkbacked and White Pelicans, as well as a diversity of storks,
ducks, geese and other water birds which gather in spring. Nsumo Pan is host to
one of only two major Pinkbacked Pelican breeding colonies in southern Africa.
The main focus on Mkhuze is the monitoring of the African Wild Dog, Cheetah,
Elephant herds and Vultures.
Tembe Elephant Park:
Tembe is comprised of 30,000 hectares – the land was historically owned by the Tembe
tribe, the ancestral custodians of the area. Nkosi (Chief) Mzimba Tembe donated
the land for the formation of this Game Reserve, and it is now 50% co-owned and
managed by the Tembe tribe, while its precious bio-diversity is managed by Ezemvelo
KZN Wildlife; the KwaZulu-Natal conservation service.
Although Tembe has no Cheetah on the Reserve, it is home to a rich diversity of
other wildlife - including the “Big 5” (Lion, Leopard, Black and White Rhino, Buffalo
and Elephant), Hippo and various
antelope species, from the majestic Giraffe which stand at 5 metres tall, down to
one of the smallest antelope in Africa - the Suni, at only 35 centimetres high!
The area now known as Tembe Elephant Park is real wild country.
The park is situated within the sand-veld ecological zone and consists mainly of
closed woodland and secondary thicket formation. The zone falls within a transition
area between tropical and sub-tropical forms and therefore is home to a great diversity
of vegetation as well as over 340
bird species, making it a delight for bird lovers.
The main focus on Tembe is the monitoring of the Lion, African Wild Dog and Elephant
Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (established in 1895), is one of the oldest Game Reserves
in Africa. It is very large (960 km² / 96,000 ha) and contains an immense diversity
of fauna and flora. Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park was originally three separate reserves
that joined under its current title in 1989, and since then they have been managed
as one park. The two sections are not separated by fences and they are still managed
as one natural system, however due to the size of the protected area, logistically
it is divided into two Management Sections.
Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park is home to a rich diversity of wildlife, including the "Big
5" (Black and White Rhinoceros, Elephant,
Buffalo, Lion and Leopard), as well as species such as African Wild Dog, Cheetah,
Hyaena, Jackal, Blue Wildebeest, Giraffe, Zebra, Nile Crocodile, Hippopotamus, Bushpig,
Warthog, Mongoose, Chacma Baboons, Vervet Monkeys, as well as various antelope species
including Waterbuck, Kudu, Nyala, Impala, common and mountain Reedbuck, Bushbuck,
Duiker, Steenbok and Suni, and a variety of Tortoises, Terrapins, Snakes and Lizards.
The park is also a prime birding destination, with over 320 recorded bird species.
Due to the vast size of the reserve, we have 2 projects situated within the 2 separate
management sections of Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (one in the northern “Hluhluwe Section”
and one in the southern “iMfolozi Section”).
The northern section of the park (known as the Hluhluwe section) has hilly topography
where altitudes range from 80 to 540 m above sea level. The high ridges support
coastal scarp forests in a well watered region with valley bushveld at lower levels.
The accommodation at the research camp in Hluhluwe is in the form of rooms each
with 2 single beds. You may therefore have to share with one other volunteer of
the same gender, for these 2 weeks.
This camp also houses some other research staff and visiting staff members for the
park, (although their rooms are separate
from our volunteers). This does provide the opportunity for socialising and interesting
discussions with these other researchers in the evenings.
The main focus in the Hluhluwe Section of the park is an extensive Cheetah population
survey using remote camera traps, and includes the monitoring of the African Wild
The topography in the southern iMfolozi section ranges from the lowlands of the
Black and White iMfolozi River beds, to steep hilly country which includes some
wide and deep valleys. Habitats in this area are primarily grasslands, which extend
into Acacia savannah and woodlands. iMfolozi was the home of the now famous “Operation
Rhino” in the 1950's and 60's, which resulted in the saving of the Southern White
Rhino (Ceratotherium simium) from extinction. iMfolozi is also famed for its Wilderness
Trails which originated in iMfolozi in the 1950’s, and the Park’s renowned Game
The accommodation at the research camp in iMfolozi is in the form of rooms, with
2 single beds and with 3 single beds.
You may therefore have to share with another volunteer of the same gender, for these
*Just a note: the accommodation at the iMfolozi camp is basic, isolated and reliant
on a generator for electricity. At times the power supply can be somewhat unreliable,
so please ensure that you
have enough spare batteries to rely on in case you cannot recharge there as often
as you would like.
This will be a time for you to truly “switch off” and enjoy the bush! It is a very
beautiful location, with numerous sightings; a truly special place.
The main focus in the iMfolozi Section of the park is a new animal track/spoor
identification project, as well as the monitoring of the African Wild Dogs
Zululand Rhino Reserve:
Zululand Rhino Reserve (ZRR) lies within the Msunduzi valley in northern Zululand,
in the province of Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. The area falls under the Mkuze
Valley Lowveld vegetation type, varying from open Savanna thornveld, bushveld to
riverine woodland, characterized by Acacia’s and Marula tree species. The reserve
has over 70 Mammal species and an exceptional diversity of birdlife.
The Zululand Rhino Reserve was established in 2004 and comprises of 17 landowners
who have dropped their internal fences
to create a big 5, endangered species reserve. The WWF Black Rhino Range Expansion
Project was the conduit for the formation of the reserve. The Reserve was chosen
as a release site for the WWF Black Rhino Range Expansion Project and in 2005 a
founder population of black rhino were released into their new home. In 2009 the
reserve was proclaimed as a Nature Reserve under the Protected Areas Act 57 of 2003
acknowledging the reserve as a site of biodiversity importance that makes essential
contributions to the conservation of species and habitats and is an important system
that provides ecosystem services.
Volunteers are housed in a large, beautiful and secluded house within the reserve,
and the camp offers twin rooms, a
large kitchen and a lovely patio dining area.
The main focus on Zululand Rhino Reserve is monitoring of the Cheetah, Elephant
and Rhino, as well as some population surveys, conducted via remote camera traps.
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