Volunteer in Africa
I saw rhinos and cave paintings and had the chance to visit a village, where I met an 82-year-old chief that told me the tale of fighting a leopard that was eating his livestock. His stories were incredible and followed shortly by a dance performance by the children of the village. I could not write about this day with enough detail to do it justice, but believe me when I say it was one of the most memorable days of my life!
Our day started at 7am with making our own breakfast. We would meet with all the staff at 8 for the day’s work which would continue until 4 or 5. We were assigned different jobs with different staff and animals every day. We had baby monkeys which were so cute, but bratty; we took turns bottle feeding and playing with them as well as a little dyker and springbok.
The tigers are a new experience for me, they weren’t there last year. It was amazing to get to work with them, never thought I’d do that! The three lionesses are now 18 months old and substantially bigger than when I last saw them. My biggest surprise came when we fed the animals and got to see Sheba’s cubs again. They were a month old when I left them last year; I’d actually sat with them and looked after them for some time. Now, they look like full grown lions! What a difference a year makes in the life of a lion.
Typical days at the African Wildlife Ranch aren’t typical at all. Each day provided for a new opportunity to help improve the lives of the animals at the ranch. Whether it was assisting with cleaning enclosures each morning, preparing food for various animals, providing enrichment to one of the many wonderful animals, building and preparing enrichment opportunities or assisting with project work, there was always something new to keep you focused on.
As a volunteer, I got to interact with animals that regular visitors don’t get to interact with, for example the black and white lemurs (which are EXTREMLY soft) and the bat-eared foxes. During my stay, I got to learn a lot about conservancy and animal preservation. Most of the staff there are really well informed and can answer all the questions you can have regarding the animals.
I was in the clinic most days (there were many holidays during my stay so sometimes the clinic was closed). In the clinic there were different stations that I was able to choose from. Some days I was in the baby weighing station, others in the wound dressing room or even in the maternity ward if a woman was in labor.
Volunteering with GoEco has been an unforgettable experience. I knew I wanted to do the Great White Shark Conservation project as soon as I read the description online a year ago. I’ll admit I was a little skeptical seeing as how I found it online and had never previously heard of GoEco. However, it turned out to be even better than the description had depicted.!
When I arrived in Cape Town, I was positively surprised by how welcoming not only the staff but also the volunteers were. I had no problems at all finding new friends and engaging with everybody around. The average age was about 21, even though there were exceptions with ages ranging up to 65! I was immediately briefed on the project and on what to expect from it and never felt lost at all.
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