at UmPhafa Private Nature Reserve, South Africa
ARE YOU INTERESTED IN VOLUNTEERING ON UMPHAFA?
The UmPhafa Private Nature Reserve, situated in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, is a 5,000 hectare reserve comprised of three farms previously managed for cattle and encompasses a wide range of habitats from acacia savannah and bushveld to mountainous terrain. Due to previous agricultural practices much of the natural inhabiting species had been lost. The aim of Action for the Wild is to rehabilitate UmPhafa as an example of the regions previous natural condition.
Although some mammal populations remained and have thrived since the reserve was established, many more species have been reintroduced and UmPhafa is now home to a wide range of fauna including white rhino, giraffe, kudu, impala, common reedbuck, mountain reedbuck, zebra, blesbok, red hartebeest, waterbuck, nyala, warthog, aardvark and porcupine, to name only some. Small to medium sized carnivores such as black-backed jackal, caracal, serval, genet, and several species of mongoose are also common and recently staff have been picking up more and more signs of leopard!!
Action for the Wild is currently offering placements at UmPhafa Reserve, in particular to those seeking to gain experience before pursuing a career in conservation, although the programme is open to anybody with a genuine love of nature and the environment.
This will be so much more than the typical safari experience and as research assistants to UmPhafa’s project coordinators, participants will have a fun, interesting, exciting and, overall, valuable time by playing a crucial role in the operation of the reserve by helping to collect valuable data necessary to make key management decisions. This in itself is much more fulfilling than simply visiting Africa as a tourist and research assistants will have the satisfaction of being close to the animals and knowing that their contribution is having a direct influence on the wellbeing of the fauna of UmPhafa Reserve.
This is an opportunity to gain valuable experience in the field and learn new skills from qualified staff members over a wide range of aspects involved in the running of a reserve. Days will be varied with duties including behavioural observations on game species which often involves stalking species such as rhino and giraffe through the bush at close quarters!! Participants will also be aiding with the other current research projects, such as small mammal trapping, setting up and checking carnivore tracking stations, and camera trapping of elusive nocturnal species in order to complete the species list of the reserve and to monitor populations. Depending on the time of the year there may even be the chance to see animals released onto the reserve!!
At certain times in the year, vegetation surveys will be an important undertaking and research assistants will learn the importance of particular plant species, their traditional/medicinal uses, and vital nutritional information of the various herbivorous species. Some general maintenance of the reserve’s roads, fences and structures in also often necessary and assistance will be required in the construction of hides and research camps.
There are several other reserves nearby including a ‘big 5’ game park which there will be the opportunity to visit as well as the chance to visit schools in order to promote environmental education to the local community.
As competition is expected to be high for these positions, placements will be offered following a successful interview process, which will be held at Colchester Zoo. The minimum age of prospective research assistants is 20 years by the time of deployment to UmPhafa. The minimum period of stay is 4 weeks with a maximum of 12 weeks and placements are available year round. After successful application, scheduled dates of deployment will be allocated based on the applicant’s preferred month of commencement.
Here are some of the comments of our 2010 volunteers when asked what their overall impression of the trip was:
As a first time trip to South Africa, this trip could not have been more fulfilling. Was a truly engaging and brilliant experience that has ensured I will return to South Africa
(Chris Platt, volunteered from 18/10/2010-14/12/2010)
I’ve had an amazing time and have loved my time here
(Vicki Westwood, volunteered from 4/08/2010-05/10/2010)
Had a fantastic time. Have been absolutely exhausted, interested, confused and amazed at times. Best two months of my life.
(Kate Lucas, volunteered from 5/08/2010-05/10/2010)
I really, really enjoyed my time at UmPhafa. The work was what I expected and we had plenty of fun. Very well organised!
(Leigh Honour, volunteered from 17/8/2010-15/9/2010)
Great fun and a lifetime experience that I will never forget (Eve Hall, volunteered from 4/8/2010-2/9/2010)
It was cool, I learnt a lot that otherwise I wouldn’t know. (Nick Reston, volunteered from 3/4/2010-25/06/2010)
I really enjoyed the trip. I felt there was a nice variety of activities planned and I learnt a lot.
(Sarah Michaels, volunteered from 2/05/2010-30/05/2010)
Amazing. I really enjoyed every aspect of my time here, out in the field or taking a trip somewhere or even just going to the club. The wildlife and the people made this placement a once in a lifetime experience.
(Martin Parker, volunteered May 2010)
For more information on these placement positions, please click on the brochure image or here to download our free info pack
To apply, please download your application form here and send the completed form to email@example.com
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