Endangered Species Project

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The Endangered Species Project allows you to participate in hands on monitoring of some of Africa’s most endangered species such as Rhino, Cheetah and Southern Ground Hornbill.

This project is ideal if you want to truly experience the “wild” side of Africa. Our bush camp is based in a Limpopo game reserve which is home to the ‘Big 5′. This means you will get to encounter, and live among, elephants, lions, rhino, leopards and buffalo while working with us.

We will teach you basic bush survival skills and how to navigate your way through the African bush!

During your stay, your days will be spent mostly on foot walking through the reserve, learning how to track the animals. You will be approaching endangered species on foot and recording their behaviour, location and condition.

The collected information is then used by the reserve management and anti-poaching teams, as well as national conservation efforts to help save these endangered species.

Furthermore, you will take part in vehicle based monitoring to see the amazing Big 5, as well as habitat work to help with the monitoring process.

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Project Highlights

  • Learning about South African wildlife conservation
  • Helping out in saving endangered species
  • Going on game drives and seeing wild animals up close/li>
  • Experiencing what it is like to live in the bush

This is a unique experience for people who want to get more out of visiting a game reserve in South Africa. Everyone who joins us on this exciting program will get to experience the African bush in its extremes, from elephants strolling through camp to the tropical heat or the surprisingly cold winter nights.

If you have a love of nature and want to participate in helping to save Africa’s endangered species, this is the project for you.

Project details

  • Arrival date: Saturday
  • Orientation in Johannesburg: Saturday-Sunday
  • Transfer to project: Monday
  • Location:  65km North-West from Hoedspruit and 75km South-East from Tzaneen, Limpopo
  • Minimum duration: 2 weeks
  • Programs run 6 days a week

Johannesburg Orientation 
All of our JNB conservation projects will include a 2 day orientation prior to attending the project site. Saturday-Sunday is orientation in Joburg, then on Monday you will transfer to project via shuttle and depart on a Monday.

Arrival
We recommend that volunteers fly to and from Hoedspruit Airport (cost around R2000). We will organise a transfer from the airport to the project and back. Choosing this option will save you a six hour bus shuttle from Johannesburg to Hoedspruit and back.

Volunteer Requirements

  • CV/Resumé
  • Basic level of competency in English
  • Medium level of fitness
  • 18 years of age or older

Volunteer tasks

Volunteer tasks are focused on monitoring, which forms the basis for the majority of our research assistance on the reserve. We conduct monitoring 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 volunteers will also spend time attending to habitat management requirements on the properties and the greater reserve.

Winter in South Africa

Please note that May through to September are our winter months and it can get quite chilly with an average temperature ranging from -1 at night to 15 degrees Celsius during the day. So, please make sure to pack enough warm clothes if you plan your trip in that period.

What’s Included

• Return Transfer from Johannesburg Airport
• All meals
• Accommodation
• 24 hour support and supervisor
• Donation to the project

2 day Volunteer Johannesburg Orientation

Arrive in Joburg or Jozi, as it is known locally, and get shown around by people who know the city well. The Johannesburg Orientation is excellent for first-time visitors to find their feet the local way and meet other volunteers on your project.

Highlights:
• Arty districts of Newtown and Braamfontein
• Constitutional Hill
• Telkom Tower
• Nelson Mandela Bridge
• Jazz Walk of Fame
• Mary Fitzgerald Square
• Traditional South African meal

Day 1
You will be picked up from the airport and taken to the hostel. Here you will be given a chance to settle down before meeting our SAVE volunteer representative.
You will be given a briefing on your volunteer program and then meet other travellers and volunteers for a welcome dinner.

Day 2
After breakfast you will be collected by one of our SAVE crew and shown your way around the sites of Johannesburg like a local. We will start off with a visits to Soweto, South Africa’s biggest Township here you will have the opportunity to take some  photos at the iconic Orlando Towers and Soccer City, home of the World Cup Final. We then head to a local food market where you can have a light lunch, shop for local arts and crafts and listen to some live music. After lunch we head to Constitution Hill, home of our South African Democracy and an integral part of our history. We then end the tour with a walk through the park at Zoo Lake, a pleasant end to the day.

Please note that the tour is flexible and may change according to the group’s interests for the day. This is your personal tour of our lovely city with our local guide to show you the best sites and places for the day.

Day 3
After breakfast we will either take you directly to your projects site, shuttle terminal or airport.

Accommodation

We have a bushcamp that has been set up especially for the volunteers on this project. Here, you will be staying in comfortable twin shared tents set up on raised platforms. There are bush showers, flushing toilets and a kitchen available at the camp.

Internet

If you require internet access at the camp, you can arrange this for a small cost with the camp manager. On our weekly town trip you will also have the opportunities for internet access at the internet café in town to check your emails and do bookings.

Laundry

There are washing machines available for use at camp, washing powder is supplied. Clothes are line-dried, no dryers available.

Meals

All food for breakfast, lunch and dinner is provided, as well as fresh fruit. However, food is only re-stocked once a week so once it’s gone it’s gone! If you have any special dietary requirements please inform us before your arrival so that we can accommodate them if possible.

Cordial fruit drink, tea and coffee are provided. Soft drinks, alcoholic beverages (beers and ciders) and snack foods are not available in camp but you can buy them on the weekly town trips.

Important reminder: Participants must advise SAVE of their dietary needs. Volunteers with very specific dietary requirements may be required to supplement meals at their own expense.

Transport

Volunteers will be met at Johannesburg International airport and taken to the project. On project days the volunteers will be transported. The vehicles used are roadworthy and have all relevant licenses and liability insurance.

  • All transport is safe and reliable.
  • All licenses and insurances are up to date.
  • All insurances and liabilities for passengers are up to date and fully paid.
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 Example Itinerary

MonTuesday - FridaySatSun

Project start day. Town trip to pick up volunteers and restock supplies.

Mornings will consist of monitoring walks to locate 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 work 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.

On Friday afternoon, your drive will meet up with the research group for a sleep out under the stars.

In conjunction with research, all sightings of leopard will also be monitored and recorded – the more eyes the better when trying to monitor this elusive animal!

In the 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).

Either an outing will be planned or it will be a free day for volunteers to relax or head out on their own tour.
In between activities, volunteers will receive a series of presentations on the work of the project, or how to approach dangerous game on foot, or possibly even a Zulu 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.
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