The project runs 6 days a week. Volunteer tasks are focused on monitoring, which forms the basis for the majority of our research assistance on the reserve. We conduct monitoring walks/drives in the mornings and afternoons. The monitoring coincides with times of increased activity of the specific animals we are observing. We also spend time on foot tracking the more elusive animals, which is an amazing way to experience the bush. During the drier winter months, we have several hides based at waterholes which allow you to observe the various animals and their interactions at close quarters.
The early morning monitoring walks will have you locating the rhino and cheetah. You will learn how to identify and age their tracks and how to record this information. Once the animals have been located you will monitor their behaviour, environment and interactions in order to better understand them. Meanwhile, you will also learn how to track other big game such as elephant, lion and hyena in order to better understand utilisation of the areas covered. At all times you will also be on the lookout for potential sightings and nest sites of the southern ground hornbill.
On return to camp, you will enter the data collected onto the computers. You’ll also get the chance to go through your bush knowledge work books to help improve your tracking skills. During the week there will be a series of talks on the project, data collection, bush skills and maybe even a Zulu lesson.
In the afternoons you will set out on monitoring drives in order to cover more ground to determine new areas to locate rhino, cheetah and southern ground hornbill. Once signs of activity and tracks have been located you will continue on foot to discover more. Whilst driving through the reserve you will also get the chance to see some of our other resident Big 5 - elephant, lion and buffalo. In conjunction with the research, all sightings of leopard will also be monitored and recorded - the more eyes the better when trying to monitor this elusive animal.
On Friday afternoon, you will meet up with the research group for a sleep-out under the stars. Saturdays are free for you to relax and spend the day as you like or to join an outing if one has been planned. On Sunday morning you will help out with some habitat work, either bush clearing, erosion control or road maintenance. Upon return from the afternoon monitoring drive, we may head out to the local pub or have a typical South African braai (BBQ).
In between activities, you will receive a series of presentations on the work of the project, or how to approach dangerous game on foot, or possibly even a presentation on Rhino Poaching lesson. This time will also be used to transfer all data collected onto the computers and compile the weekly research report, as well as helping out with vehicle checks and cleaning.
Average working day
The project runs 6 days a week from Monday to Saturday. In summer we start at 5:30am and are out for 4 to 5 hours. In the afternoon we leave at 16:00 for another 3 to 4 hours. In winter we leave at 6:30am and are out for 4 to 5 hours. In the afternoon we leave at 15:00 for another 3 to 4 hours. We also give lectures and presentations 2 or 3 times during the week over the lunch period. For the remainder of the time between monitoring sessions, volunteers are required to enter all the data that they have collected into our databases.
When you volunteer with us you are joining us on the frontline our Nature Reserve, helping meet all the challenges we face daily managing our reserve and the animals that call it home, while helping us meet the financial burden that comes with keeping them all safe.
This routine is kept as best as possible, however, working with animals requires a flexible schedule. The above outline is subject to change.