Project Summary Volunteers on this project will have the opportunity to make a real and tangible difference to sustainable conservation projects. Not only will volunteers work hands on with local conservation initiatives but will also participate in educating the wider community about conservation and nature - as well as learning a great deal themselves!! By educating the local community we aim to sow the seed of respect and passion for South Africa's natural heritage - we believe that conservation relies on community appreciation and understanding.
This Project aims to expose volunteers to all aspects of conservation and involves the following elements: working with members of the Rastafarian community on their "Kayalethu Eco-Trail"; assisting at a local Elephant Sanctuary; assisting with our "Recycling Swop Shop"; experiencing one of South Africa's many National Parks; educating the community about conservation and nature; and of course educating themselves about conservation and nature!
Who should Apply? Specific qualifications are not required, although this project would definitely be of interest to and benefit those studying or working in the field of conservation. Volunteers need to have a passion for conservation and nature and a love for working with the community. Volunteers need to be hard working, mature, motivated and able to show initiative. Good health and physical fitness are also required. Volunteers also need to be confident in English speaking.
Volunteers on this project may be involved the following tasks:
Elephant Sanctuary: Stable cleaning Fruit chopping Cleaning the night pen General maintenance Conducting behavioural observations contributing to long term research goals
Please note: Volunteers will have the opportunity to get close to and interact with the elephants however please be aware that it is not possible for volunteers to be constantly interacting with the elephants due to the fact that constant human contact could lead to difficulties when the elephants are to be released from the Sanctuary.
Volunteers may be asked to assist with tasks that do not directly relate to the care of the elephants but are necessary for the general upkeep of the Sanctuary.
Kayalethu Eco-Trail: Planting indigenous species Removal of alien invasive trees and plants Mending paths and walkways Clearing river debris Helping the guides with tourists from abroad, and the surrounding communities New business plan development Assisting at Judah Square Education Centre
Conservation & Nature Lessons: Teaching lessons on Elephant Conservation & Management Teaching lessons on Biomimicry*
*Biomimicry may be a concept that you haven't come across before so here is a brief explanation! - the basic idea of biomimicry is to be inspired by and imitate nature's designs in order to conserve life and create a more sustainable way of life.
Recycling Swop Shop: This is an initiative which aims to provide an opportunity for children to gain an understanding of the value of goods and the concept of exchanging work for goods through a recycling exchange incentive scheme. Local children of 18 years and under earn exchange recyclable materials for tokens with which they buy donated items such as clothes & toiletries.
Weighing recycling Upkeep of shop Assisting children in the shop Data capture and data entry
Addo Elephant National Park Experience: After a long history of poaching and human encroachment, today Addo Elephant National Park is home to over 400 elephants in a fenced area of 12,500 hectares (the entire park is over 148,000 hectares). Addo has one of the highest concentrations of African elephants in the world!!
Volunteers will have the opportunity to take part in a 3 day (2 nights) excursion to Addo where they will have the privilege of camping in this beautiful National Park. Please note this excursion is only guaranteed on 4 week plus projects.
Typical Day Volunteers are picked up from the house in the morning by one of our coordinators or drivers and given clear instructions on the day's activities ahead. You will have received full training on any projects that you will be involved in and given the necessary resources. We will then drive to the project that you will be involved in and start our work. The day's aims vary according to what is on our timetable but will include working at the elephant sanctuary (very early start) and cleaning out stables, helping with maintenance and conducting behavioural research (note: the elephants are going to be released so constant human contact is both dangerous for volunteers and not beneficial to the ellies however, you will have various opportunities to touch and meet them!) You may also be assisting with our workshops in a classroom with full support...remember, you will receive full training and all ideas are welcome - no formal experience is necessary for most of our work but of course we can use your skills in many different ways. After a hard morning's work you will be brought back to the volunteer house for lunch (or eat a packed lunch on site before the afternoon¡¦s project work commences). You will usually have a chance to pop into town on your way back from the projects in the evening and be home in time for a relaxing evening on the deck, followed by a cooked supper.
What's Included in Cost The confidence that every effort will be made to ensure your safety and enjoyment during your stay Rapid pre-departure support and information Airport pick up (on our arrival days only- please ask us for these dates) Travel arrangements to and from the project (On allocated days) Accommodation Food Project related transport Thorough orientation to area and chosen project First day introduction and orientation to project and colleagues Project support and feedback sessions throughout your stay Assistance with optional activities and tours 24/7 emergency support Sim Card for your phone T-Shirt Community and Cultural Tour Post-project involvement and updates
What's Excluded: Flights and Visas Travel insurance (necessity!) Excursions and optional activities Post placement transport
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We took part in the Build Our Schools Program on our honeymoon and had the most enjoyable two weeks helping out in the Khayalethu community.
We both loved the hands on nature of the work helping out at the Ikamvu Lethu pre-school. One of our favourite moments was seeing the reaction on the ladies faces when we showed them the completed new doors in the pre-school made out of an old benchtop, they were so grateful. It's hard to describe how big a difference little things like mending fences makes to the school and the community.
Knysna is a beautiful place and this organisation does some amazing work in the community. We would highly recommend the Build Our Schools Program to anyone who wants a change up to their desk job and get their hands dirty.
Thanks to the team for a wonderful experience. In the end our only regret was that we could not stay any longer and help out more, hopefully next time.
The experience was really good out there, however, I believe it was more so because of the Game Lodge and the co-ordinators there.
The programme offers an opportunity to really watch the Big 5 (except for Leopard) from close quarters. However, it could have beeN better with some more planning and more time with the animals. Most of our time was spent in the maintenance work of the park (which ofcourse I dont mind), but I just wish we could have spent more time with the animals. Thats probably the only critical feedback I have to give.
Its definitely a wonderful programme, especially for people who want to make a career in game reserve management / wildlife conservation.
We have just returned from an absolutely fantastic month away in South Africa, where we worked at the Game Lodge.
All the staff were fantastic and the whole trip was so expertly organised with a lot of care and attention to detail. We felt at home straight away and would have stayed if our visas didn't run out!
The project itself involved many different activities from tracking cheetah, feeding the baby cheetah, helping vets to dart, capture and release animals and also a lot of general farm maintenance. It was hard work but very rewarding.
Like all volunteer projects, you get out what you put in to it. There is so much to gain from being part of the team. We have learned so much about Arfican wildlife, flora, fauna and the South African culture. Without a doubt I would recommend The Big 5 Wildlife and Conservation Project to anyone who wants to have an experience they will never forget.
I had a truly wonderful month on the Big 5 project in South Africa.
The project was very well facilitated and I received exactly what I was looking for - a varied, interesting hands-on experience. Participating in everything from collecting and feeding food to the lions and darting and relocating a male wildebeest, to making a new road on the reserve and learning about some of the plants and insects. I also had a chance to see some of the beautiful Garden Route.
They are a very well organised and professional company and looked after every tiny detail.
Brenton Smith - from Australia
Well where to start I had the time of my life .
Dayne and Roger are two very dedicated people not only with animal conservation but land and people infact all of Africa. This wass showed time and time again with the people they work with and the places I stayed and the people and animals they are helping. It was all happy and good, I could not have felt safer or been looked after better everything transport food, people, and projects.
I would not only highly recommend them but strongly suggest any one who really wants a special experience in every way contact them and you will not be disappointed
Georgina - from Australia
For several months i had been looking for a project in South Africa to incorportate into my travel plans. When i found the Rasta Eco Project I knew that was what I wanted to do. As a teacher of conservation and also operating a business doing restoration work, this suited me perfectly.
I spent 2 wonderful weeks assessing, advising and working removing alien weed species, (australian species). (At home I remove South African weed species and this provided me the income to come to South Africa and remove Australian alien species!)
To work on the Khayalethu River Trail was a life changing experience and i was welcomed by all the Judah Square Community and made many wonderful friends. Working with Brothers Maxi and Gene I had the truly enriching and positive opportunity to share and exchange knowledge and information. I was inspired and humbled by the dedication of the community in creating the trail, building the information centre, restoring the Fynbos and environmental education for the future generations.
A real grassroots project which can only benefit the community and the people who visit. Jah Bless!