It has taken me 22 years to realize my goal to come to South Africa and stand face to face with my dreams to one day be among the best Wildlife Photographers.
My eternal love for Photography, animals and nature led me to Wildlife ACT, which turned out to be the best thing that has ever happened to me in my life. I had a breath-taking 6 weeks of volunteering and words can’t explain how much I have grown during this time.
The most important thing of all was understanding conservation and discerning that I was actually a part of something big that came with a lot of responsibility. We’ve all heard about conservation and fake organisations that pretend to do something about it, where volunteers come to pet lions, right? Well, this is not the case. As Wildlife ACT has cleverly put it – ”This is Zululand, not Disneyland.”
For me, I’d say it was more of a Dreamland. Waking up every morning early on, sure. Who needs sleep anyway? When there are animals out there to be saved. When they are being snared, killed and trapped on a daily basis. When the clock is ticking. When their numbers are decreasing.
Once you set your first step inside the camp you already know, this is the real deal. Every day is an event and every second is an experience. The unpredictability of nature overall adds up to that in such a beautiful way. It felt like home. If home is not a place, but a feeling, then this was it for me.
In six weeks, apart from tracking and monitoring animals on a daily basis, I watched helicopters come down to save an elephant from dying. I watched the glowing eyes of local communities as they were being educated why the Wild Dogs are of such importance to our existence. I watched rhinos being dehorned as they were finally free of the threat to be poached, as the last means of conservation to save these amazing creatures from extinction.
And right in this moment I knew – South Africa is waiting for me, because if not us, nobody will save our planet’s wildlife. It is up to you. And if it is, Wildlife ACT is the right place to be!