“My husband and I volunteered for two weeks on the Thanda Reserve as part of our honeymoon, and wow, what a great two weeks. Thanda is a beautiful private reserve with a great variety of scenery including hills, plains, watering holes, trees, and bushland, and we got to know it pretty well while canvassing for animals in the back of the truck.
One surprise we found was that “getting up with the sun” happens a lot earlier in Zululand than it does back home…3:00 or 3:30am. We got used to that pretty quickly and were always eager to start the day with the telemetry equipment in search of wild dogs, black and white rhino, cheetah, lion, elephant, leopard, and more. Many, like giraffe and warthogs, we saw as they sauntered or ran through our camp. Pretty exciting. Our job was to find the animals and track where they were and what they were doing. It was particularly exciting to find and watch the pack of wild dogs; many of which were born earlier that year.
Our highlight was really learning about wildlife management from experienced, passionate conservationists and seeing what happens day-to-day to manage the land and animal resources in the area. For example we spent nearly three days locating a white rhino (who knew such a large animal could be so hard to find and keep in front of you!), helping the vet and other staff to get her on her feet after being darted and “walk” her into a huge moving van so she could be relocated to another reserve where breeding would be more successful for her. There isn’t more hands-on work than actually touching a beautiful animal like that.
The days volunteering were long, some eleven hours, and it was purely magical every day to locate the animals, learn about their day-to-day activities, spend all day outside in a beautiful area, and to be with such great staff. My husband and I highly, highly recommend volunteering with Wildlife ACT and to be part of their efforts to protect such amazing animals.”