Volunteering In South African Nature Projects

One of the most attractive aspects of South Africa for many people is the natural heritage that can be found in throughout the country. It is home to a wide range of different animal species, including elephants, lions, cheetahs and many other iconic animals, and being able to volunteer to support natural life in the country is an attractive prospect for many people, and it can be a great way to make a positive difference in the country. This type of volunteering can be a great way for people visiting the country to get a behind the scenes look at the work that is being done to preserve the habitats and animals that are under threat in many parts of Africa, and offers work that can really make a difference.

 

Habitat Maintenance

One of the most important types of volunteering that people can do in the country is to help maintain the habitats where the wild animals live, to make sure that they are kept in a sustainable way for future generations. This kind of work can also be carried out in the large game reserves in the country, and will often include trying to deal with the problems of invasive plant species that can have a detrimental effect on the native plants and disrupt food sources for the local species. Supporting the redevelopment of the local native plants by planting and re-seeding areas is also part of the habitat maintenance work is also a part of this kind of work, while some people will also be checking key areas such as watering holes to make sure they remain free of pollutants. 

The plains of South Africa are among the most important habitats that need to be protected.  Attribution: zoutedrop

Working To Support Particular Species

There are many charities and non-government organisations in South Africa that carry out work dedicated to help support endangered species in different parts of the country. This can range from the most famous species such as lions and rhinos in Zululand through to wildlife rehabilitation centers that specialize on supporting particular species such as elephants and leopards. This type of volunteering can be interesting and varied, and will often take in many different aspects of wildlife support work, from surveying animals and their populations through to checking to see if their habitats and hunting grounds are still being used by these animals.  

Lions are another species that volunteers can help to support in South Africa.  Attribution: Meraj Chhaya

Wildlife Monitoring Roles

In order to be able to work effectively to support endangered species and to understand what changes that can benefit these species, research and monitoring plays an important role in the conservation work in South Africa. This work is varied and interesting, and can range from sedating and carrying out checks on larger species through to night trips to find signs of predators and their activity in certain areas of the country. This not only deals with larger species, but in some cases will also look at the plant and animal species further down the food chain to ensure they are abundant enough to sustain the populations of the larger animals that are the most famous attractions of South African Wildlife.

Supporting species such as the White Rhino is a key part of wildlife volunteering in South Africa.  Attribution:  Michael Jansen

Wildlife Education

Another interesting way to help support wildlife and animal conservation in South Africa is by volunteering with one of the projects that accept visits from schools and community groups to help educate them about these species. It can also sometimes include making trips to deliver presentations in local schools too. This is a really valuable way to help local people as well as wildlife experts to buy in to the need to help support the natural wildlife in the country, as well as providing an exciting experience for many school children. In many ways, education is just as important for the future of wildlife in the country as the conservation work that is being carried out in South Africa.

 

Should You Raise Money For The Project?

Many organizations that accept volunteers in South Africa will also ask for a donation to help cover accommodation and food costs, or will ask you to raise a certain amount of money for the project before coming to volunteer. This can involve a big commitment, and for longer volunteering projects can involve raising thousands of dollars in order to support your desire to help with the local wildlife situation. In most cases this will be a reasonable request, but as with any such project it is important that you carry out your research beforehand, and look for references from others to ensure that the volunteer experiences are good, and that the organization is genuinely making a difference for local wildlife.

 

What To Expect From Your Volunteering Work

The majority of people who carry out a wildlife volunteering experience in South Africa will find it to be an amazing and enriching experience, and the chance to make a difference to the wildlife of the country is a huge opportunity. However, it is worth making sure that you are ready for the kind of work you may need to carry out as a part of your volunteer placement. Many projects will require physical work, night time camping in the bush or work at unsociable hours, so make sure that you are happy to be sleeping out in what may be uncomfortable conditions. By approaching your placement with an open mind, you are much more likely to have the life affirming experience that is great for you as well as for the natural surroundings in South Africa.

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18 August 2017
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