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Volunteering in South Africa – Research and Conservation


Volunteer in South Africa – Big Cats Research and Conservation in the Greater Kruger Area
The Greater Kruger Area , South Africa

I had the opportunity to travel and volunteer at the Big Cats Research and Conservation project. My involvement with the project was quick and very in-depth, as I worked with the other volunteer researchers and the field guide to track and monitor lions, elephants, rhinos, and the many other wildlife present on the game reserve. My involvement allowed me to avoid being the one-dimensional tourist, but rather to provide meaningful work in the further advancement of research done on the wildlife in Africa. Seeing and working with these beautiful animals has been eye-opening, especially the black and white rhinos. The next 5 years will be critical for the survival of these magnificent creatures. Conservation becomes vital for the survival of the rhino as well as all the species that live in a very unpredictable part of the world.

Skhondla Ondla is the dominant male for the North Pride on Thanda. A GoEco volunteer spotted this massive cat was drinking water.
Skhondla Ondla is the dominant male for the North Pride on Thanda. This massive cat was spotted drinking water.
A GoEco volunteer spotted hyena was cooling off in a watering hole on Thanda. Spotted hyenas are quite rare to see on the reserve, so this was a very exciting moment for the volunteers
This spotted hyena was cooling off in a watering hole on Thanda. Spotted hyenas are quite rare to see on the reserve, so this was a very exciting moment for the volunteers

Our typical days included a couple of game drives (one in the morning and one after lunch) where we would be out in the bush collecting data on the animals. Emphasis was placed on lions, elephants, and rhinos, as their movements and activities are important pieces of information utilized by the reserves partner organizations. GPS, radio telemetry, and our own eyes were used to locate the animals. Once a week we would have either a night drive or an early morning drive. Spotlighting was used to locate the animals. The night drive was very productive! We got to see elephants, a black-backed jackal, various antelopes in the reserve, and, the very elusive, serval!

A GoEco volunteer next to a cheetah brothers form a coalition that will hunt and survive together. Their only advantage is their speed
These cheetah brothers form a coalition that will hunt and survive together. Their only advantage is their speed
A GoEco volunteer capture this male buffalo how known as a “dagga boy”. The males leave the herd and form their own groups.
The buffalo are said to be the most dangerous of the Big 5. They are known to hold grudges and become very aggressive when feel threatened. This male is known as a “dagga boy”. The males leave the herd and form their own groups.

I want to work with wildlife in a more conservation-based way and this project allowed me to learn and to utilize some of the skills involved with such a career choice. I am forever grateful for the experience of volunteering in South Africa and the opportunity to live and work on this project. – Matthew

A GoEco volunteer with a part of the group using radio telemetry to track Savannah, a female lion, in Mduna.
This is part of the group using radio telemetry to track Savannah, a female lion, in Mduna.

Get involved and begin the journey of your lifetime! Click here for more details about Big Cats Research and Conservation in the Greater Kruger Area!

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